In War Time



John Greenleaf Whittier

ACROSS THE SEA I heard the groans
    Of nations in the intervals
Of wind and wave. Their blood and bones
Cried out in torture, crushed by thrones,
    And sucked by priestly cannibals.

I dreamed of Freedom slowly gained
    By martyr meekness, patience, faith,
And lo! an athlete grimly stained,
With corded muscles battle-strained,
    Shouting it from the fields of death!

I turn me, awe-struck, from the sight,
    Among the clamoring thousands mute,
I only know that God is right,
And that the children of the light
    Shall tread the darkness under foot.

I know the pent fire heaves its crust,
    That sultry skies the bolt will form
To smite them clear; that Nature must
The balance of her powers adjust,
    Though with the earthquake and the storm.

God reigns, and let the earth rejoice!
    I bow before His sterner plan.
Dumb are the organs of my choice;
He speaks in battle’s stormy voice,
    His praise is in the wrath of man!

Yet, surely as He lives, the day
    Of peace He promised shall be ours,
To fold the flags of war, and lay
Its sword and spear to rust away,
    And sow its ghastly fields with flowers!

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