The Great War

from A Crown of Amaranth, an electronic edition

Another Call to Arms

TAKE up your arms, my soldier.

You were not meant to fight,

For Loveliness has given to you

Her spirit of delight;

And you have fought with demons

These armies never knew:

The direst enemies of Life

Have been afraid of you;

And while through sloth and weakness

Men let the monsters loose,

You fought for Life's great loveliness

And sought Life's perfect use.

Yet now from your high mountain

I bid you wend your way

To dip your hands in carnage,

And like Death's hireling, slay.

Arid now you stand and tremble,

Now terror gapes at you

Whom Courage never offered

A task you could not do.

Take up your arms, my soldier;

No cross of wood is yours,

Before you reach Gethsemane

Blood from your spirit pours.

And you shall die, my soldier,

The day you swear to kill:

Take up your arms, my soldier,

And do it with a will.

For in your weakest brother

Your soul must find a place;

Now for that greater selfhood

Your little self efface.

The nations move as children

And you must be a child.

Take up your arms, my soldier,

Nor think your soul defiled.

Liberty in her travail

Has pains too deep for thought;

And many skeins are tangled

Ere Fate's design is wrought.

Die on the cross, my soldier,

Nor pray the cup pass by,

For he shall rise transfigured

Who knows the hour to die.

(The Daily News>, July 12th, 1915)