The Great War

from November: Poems in War Time, an electronic edition

The Peacemaker--August,
1914

THE nightmare that was once Napoleonism

Stalks now the harvest-ready, unharvested

Fields at high noon, to blast them with his red

Laughter, loosing a final cataclysm.

We boasted him a dream, while he was whetting

His belly's hunger, for he never ceased

Behind the years to gloat on the fair feast

Preparing--all the births of our begetting!

Is there no spear with which to slay this Slayer

Of nations, this Dragon of massacre, this

Viceroy on earth of the Monarch of the Abyss?

Is there no Champion against Life's Betrayer?

There is a hand that yet shall slay the slaughter,

A brand that yet shall smite to the death Love's

Cheat!

Ringing across the world the hills repeat

Liberty's challenge, that the mountains taught her.

And she shall not withhold her hand for sorrow,

Or pity, or prudence that counts up the cost:

Either the day is Freedom's, or we have lost

Peace, and the Spectre walks again to-morrow.

She shall make peace, but never with oppression:

Hallowed her pitiless sword that it may clean

The whole earth utterly of the obscene

Presence that holds the folk in his possession.

O, she shall make an end of war for ever:

Victress, she shall make peace, a radiant-browed

Splendour of fear-defiant Faith, endowed

With all the heart of passionate endeavour.