The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

France

Because for once the sword broke in her hand,

The words she spoke seemed perished for a space;

A11 wrong was brazen, and in every land

The tyrants walked abroad with naked face.

The waters turned to blood, as rose the Star

Of evil Fate denying all release.

The rulers smote, the feeble crying "War!"

The usurers robbed, the naked crying "Peace!"

And her own feet were caught in nets of gold,

And her own soul profaned by sects that squirm,

And little men climbed her high seats and sold

Her honour to the vulture and the worm.

And she seemed broken and they thought her dead,

The Overmen, so brave against the weak.

Has your last word of sophistry been said,

O cult of slaves? Then it is hers to speak.

Clear the slow mists from her half-darkened eyes,

As slow mists parted over Valmy fell,

As once again her hands in high surprise

Take hold upon the battlements of Hell.