Fifes and Drums/America

AMERICA

(TWO PORTRAITS)

I

"For all her busyness and prate,
Too easy-going to be great,
She wastes her soul and winks at Fate:

Poor foolish virgin who'll not trim
Her lamp, even when its light grows dim;
Capricious, ruled by chance and whim.

Her soft good-nature cannot brook
The anguish of a steady look
Upon Time's hourly posted Book:

Time's Book, wherein is written plain
The loss that follows slothful gain,
The doom of all who shrink from pain.

Lax, optimistic, indolent,
On momentary joys intent,
She counts as saved all she has spent.

And when God's ruthless Questions come
Before her with Truth's Speculum—
She slouches, simpers and chews gum!"

II

No portrait that! You libel with your pen
This anxious Mother of unhasty men.

Her heart is quick and true; her courage sure,
She has the strength to suffer and endure.

God's ruthless Questions will not find her dumb;
Her Answers will be noble. Let them come.

"Are you for ease or honor?" "I am for
The rights of living men, in peace or war."

"Will you make good that boast through days of gloom?"
"—Yes. Though my breast become my children's tomb."

Lee Wilson Dodd.