The Great War

from Lest We Forget, an electronic edition

To the Prussianizers of Germany.

Lo! would -- be War Lord of the Western World!

How dost thou now? -- thou, who the die didst cast!

Thou, who ten millions of mankind hast hurled

Hosts against hosts, -- as foes, who, in the past

Contented dwelt to strive -- e'en when outclassed --

Mid peaceful rivalry; the while mankind

True progress made; whereby the world amassed

Knowledge, with wisdom -- matter ruled by Mind

For human weal, -- and blessings unto all, freely assigned.

I here indict -- thee, and the Wilhelmstrass' --

Sure haven for each sordid sycophant,

Whose fulsome flatteries well nigh surpass

That vanity dire fate did in thee plant,

With megalomania impious, whose cant

Proclaims: "God is the Highest, but of all,

The Highest is the Kaiser." Miscreant! --

Daring the Hosts of Heaven to battle call;

Sealed is thy doom, and, e'en as Lucifer, thou, too, shalt fall.

A canc'rous kaiseritis Prussia's blood

Pervades, and hath empoisoned, since the day

Fred'rick the Great engulfed her in his flood,

And o'er the land cast his imperious sway.

One prayer there is which Germany doth pray;

'Tis "Deutschland uber Alles," -- where the "All"

This maxim's infamy doth now betray,

Since, for its sake, Honour and Justice fall,

Swamped in a welling sea of blood, whose waves the World appal.

O Peaceless Soul! Did Lucifer unbound

Become re-incarnated at thy birth?

In all this World there is no spirit found,

Like thine afflicted; holding nothing worth,

Save, what should make thee mightiest on Earth --

Impoverished, through long years, by thy strife

For armaments; who naught recked of the dearth

Amongst thy toiling millions, where burned rife

Sin -- conjured up from Hell, midst Sorrow's sweat -- to soil each life.

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad!

E'en as with thee, -- if ever thou wert wise? --

Who flung aside good councillors for bad,

Heedless of Bismarck's words: whilst Tchirschky's eyes

Their gleam malevolent -- beneath the guise

Of frank solicitude for Prussia's good --

Scarce hid; as, Servia thirsting to chastise,

He with Count Berchtold pandered to thy mood,

Till, thou, with Austria, a bond endorsed -- whose ink was blood.

By flatterers misled -- with wild uproar

That Britain was divided, and mischance

Had plunged old England into Civil War, --

Thou cri'dst: "The Day is come! and fertile France

Our plunder lies; ere turn we to make dance

The Russian bear, with fire and shrapnel steel;

Nor, at his ponderous weight look we askance --

Too slow his pace, where Prussia's Eagles wheel,

Who,'neath the impact of our beak and claws, shall stagg'ring reel."

By pacifist diplomacy deceived,

Berchtold, too late, all fearful, did implore

In language which, his subtle mind conceived,

Would balm of Gilead prove to Russia's sore;

And cried: "Austria has not banged the door" --

On Peace! Had, hence, some wireless whisper sped

In widening circles? -- as though, from our shore,

A hurtling missile to the ocean fled,

Wave after wave sends forth, whose powers survive when they are dead.

Mad, fatal fool! declining to unfold --

Dreading perchance thy Ministers might scoff --

The plot thou hadst fomented with Berchtold

And others kindred; deeming Sazonoff

Would promptly at thine ultimatum doff

Honour for Shame; and, the Imperial Czar,

With Holy Russia, grovel in its trough.

Thus --'gainst the very door of Hope ajar --

Thou, Peace didst murder, with thy mailed fist, Death's Head Hussar.

While peace lay dying, thy Chancellory,

Fearful of foes its deeds might call to view,

Proffered to England what thy history

Shall with the blackest infamy endue,

How dared ye think that England would -- in lieu

Of guarding Truth and Honour with her Name, --

Betray the World's high trust because she knew,

By such apostasy, War's sword of flame

She might escape! -- the only "cost" she recked -- undying Shame.

Civilization looks on thee askance,

Perfidious Prussia! -- such thy name shall stay --

Who strove, brave Belgium and immortal France

That England with her Honour should betray.

How thou and thine misjudged Sir Edward Grey --

Unto thy Chancellor rebuked, appeal!

Treaties to violate! Not such the way,

Towards these "scraps of paper," Britons feel!

Though you hold: "Parchment parchment only is, but steel is steel!"

As, with her golden sandal'd feet, fair Dawn

Danced in sheer joyfulness of life, and all

The glad land did rejoice, -- its ripening corn

In billowing beauty tossed with rustling call

To peaceful harvest, -- Suddenly, did fall

Ambition's mailed fist: and each field strewed

Where a relentless hail of steel did maul

Close serried ranks of Manhood's flower: and hewed

Red lanes of slaughter, "hacking a way through" -- its "Cannon food."

Too late! -- Since once the challenge thou hadst given --

War's thunder clouds to dissipate, which blew

From every quarter of outraged heaven,

As if the very Elementals knew;

Whilst a dread shadow o'er the Sun's face drew

His light from off the Earth, o'er which did loom --

Threatening and murky with the awful hue

Of Europe's blood -- dread Armageddon's doom,

Rolling in crimsoned waves such as ne'er flowed from out Time's womb.

We deemed, forsooth, that Eagles were our foes!

But now, you hop before us, self-confessed --

Whose naked gory necks, outstretched, disclose

Foul vultures, in mere Eagle's plumage dressed.

That, Potsdam's eyrie hatched -- we little guessed --

So vile a brood of megalomaniac stock,

Whose crimes nameless atrocities attest;

While, wheresoe'er the Prussian Vultures flock,

Their sins defile humanity, and make its God a mock.

We have beheld thy carrion neck laid bare,

Thrusting, with rav'ning beak, into the heart

Of Belgium's gallant children who did dare --

Fast holding rights thine own hand did impart --

Refuse to barter Honour at thy mart.

And Luxemburg! She, too, stood out in vain,

Small, and defenceless 'gainst the Uhlan dart,

Which hath laid waste fair Alsace and Louvain

With sins obscene -- whose cup of punishment deep shalt thou drain!

For deeds of infamy this doth record,

Thee, and the Wilhelmstrass', the World shall shame, --

Chastising, whilst Humanity applaud --

Whose troops, atrocities in Prussia's name

Inflicted unrestrained. Eternal blame

Shall cleave to thee and thine who did command --

The innocent, to pillage, murder, maim;

Thinking, by Fear, to thus subdue the land! --

Heedless of retribution's germs, wide sown, from blood-stained hand.

Cursed, for ever cursed! -- be the hand

That kennelled and unleashed the Potsdam Pack,

To hurl them ravaging o'er Belgium's land

No hound of hell was ever whelped so black,

Nor spoored with nameless horrors such foul track --

As where the Prussian War-dogs gorge and gloat

O'er childhood's ravished forms -- from which they hack

White limbs and trembling breasts, vainly besmote

In piteous prayers for Mercy, slowly choked down each fair throat.

Not vain the cry of those wild agonies,

Ascending from War's shambles thou hast fed;

Whence, swifter and more deadly foes now rise,

Countless, invisible, -- at whose grim head

Ride Famine gaunt, and Pestilence, and Dread.

When these, their direful purpose shall attain --

Avenging armies of the butchered dead --

No Eagle o'er thy murderer's brow shall reign,

Whereon accursed, is blazed in lurid glow -- the brand of Cain.

Not on thy chosen Godhead doth the doom

Thy deeds of blood have destined thee depend! --

No man-imagined Deity, to whom

Thou, Kaiser, can'st thine ultimatums send!

The God thy impious challenge doth offend

Knows no appeals, He is the Causeless Cause

Of All; for Him Time hath no birth nor end, --

By some, called "Nature," -- Evolution's Cause;

For thee, "Necessity," He shall be named -- "who knows no laws!"

Himself the Law of Progress, -- He, your Judge,

Whom none can influence -- He reigns supreme,

Vain braggarts! boasting from your Potsdam sludge,

You would of human progress stem the stream

With waves of blood; -- the while you dare blaspheme,

Naming the God of Gods as your ally!

Lo! You and yours shall pass, as fades a dream

Of nightmare horror 'fore the bright'ning sky;

Cursed ever of the World, and all which once -- was Germany!