The Bells of Malines

 AUGUST 17, 1914 

The gabled roofs of old Malines
Are russet red and gray and green,
And o'er them in the sunset hour
Looms, dark and huge, St.
Rombold's tower.
High in that rugged nest concealed, The sweetest bells that ever pealed, The deepest bells that ever rung, The lightest bells that ever sung, Are waiting for the master's hand To fling their music o'er the land.
And shall they ring to-night, Malines? In nineteen hundred and fourteen, The frightful year, the year of woe, When fire and blood and rapine flow Across the land from lost Liege, Storm-driven by the German rage? The other carillons have ceased: Fallen is Hasselt, fallen Diest, From Ghent and Bruges no voices come, Antwerp is silent, Brussels dumb! But in thy belfry, O Malines, The master of the bells unseen Has climbed to where the keyboard stands,-- To-night his heart is in his hands! Once more, before invasion's hell Breaks round the tower he loves so well, Once more he strikes the well-worn keys, And sends aerial harmonies Far-floating through the twilight dim In patriot song and holy hymn.
O listen, burghers of Malines! Soldier and workman, pale beguine, And mother with a trembling flock Of children clinging to thy frock,-- Look up and listen, listen all! What tunes are these that gently fall Around you like a benison? "The Flemish Lion," "Brabanconne," "O brave Liege," and all the airs That Belgium in her bosom bears.
Ring up, ye silvery octaves high, Whose notes like circling swallows fly; And ring, each old sonorous bell,-- '' Jesu," "Maria," "Michael!" Weave in and out, and high and low, The magic music that you know, And let it float and flutter down To cheer the heart of the troubled town.
Ring out, "Salvator," lord of all,-- "Roland" in Ghent may hear thee call! O brave bell-music of Malines, In this dark hour how much you mean! The dreadful night of blood and tears Sweeps down on Belgium, but she hears Deep in her heart the melody Of songs she learned when she was free.
She will not falter, faint, nor fail, But fight until her rights prevail And all her ancient belfries ring "The Flemish Lion," "God Save the King!"

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