The Great War

from The Man Who Saw, an electronic edition

You at the Helm

YOU at the helm of Empire, that with wise

Or foolish steersmanship her course control,

Where, if she 'scape not murderous reef and shoal,

She sinks in tempest, nevermore to rise--

'Tis yours to ope or shut a nation's eyes,

'Tis yours to feed or starve a people's soul,

To give as noble dues, or meanly dole

As niggard alms, the truth for which she cries.

She bade you be custodians of the light,

Not its extinguishers; and if she fall

Into a slumber of the heart or brain,

Because you stopped her ears and veiled her sight,

Then, though you come with trumpets, you may call

A too deep sleeper, and may call in vain.