Fifes and Drums/America in Arms


We have not willed this war,
    Nor heaped for man this monstrous pyre,
But we have sought on hell's wide shore
    To quench the awful fire.

This war was willed to be
    By one who sprang on a world asleep,
And now his talons out of the sea
    Have drawn us in to the deep:

In to the deep and the dark
    Where his blood is drunk with the splendor of ships,
As he lies in lair with a steel-gray shark—
    The mad foam on his lips.

No more, then, now no more
    'Tis ours to watch by the burning lake,
But ours, thank God, to wage this war,
    Thank God—for freedom's sake,

Till freedom shall be strong
    Through hell her heavenly work to do;
For force is neither right nor wrong
    But the use we put it to.

So this is the pledge we plight:
    That we can fight, who do not hate,
And we for freedom's love will fight
    In the venomed teeth of fate.

Gird, then, our hearts to blaze
    Once more through battle's black alarms,
God of our fathers, and upraise
    America in arms!

So her free soul may live,
    Then ours—to win Thy grail or grave—
Are an hundred million lives to give,
    But only one to save.

Percy MacKaye.