Marching Men: War Verses/Challenge

For works with similar titles, see Challenge.

CHALLENGE.

SOLDIER, be thy blade to-night
Keen and hungry, ruthless, bright;
Be thy strong right arm unsparing,
Swift to do thy spirit's daring;
Let the God within thee waken,
Lead thee onward to thy height,
Let no citadel be taken
In thy hidden self to-night,
But with soul resolved, unshaken,
Trust the larger faith and fight!

Heir art thou of all the past;
Let its judgments bind thee fast.
Let the ages speak again
Through the hearts of living men;
Never was such passion laid
On our shrinking flesh as now,
Never such a price was paid
For the fealty men avow;
Soldier, this my prayer to-night,
That thy fathers serve thee well,
That their blood and valor tell,
And thy living sword a-light
Charge the very gates of Hell—
For the God of ages fight!


Soldier, if in this night's reaping
Thou be of the harvest found,
Should death take thee into keeping,
Sharer of the soulless ground,
Yet stand fast with sword uplifted,
Wheat from chaff is surely sifted;
Though thou leave all earth behind thee
Never fear but love will find thee;
Lies the issue on the altar,
Ours to dare and never falter.

Soldier, far from thee I stand,
Yet I take thee by the hand,
Doff this woman's robe of weakness,
This inheritance of meekness,
Bid thee harden to the strife,
In the hour supreme of life,
Praying with my heart aflame
As I face the stars to-night;
Worthy be thou of thy name,
Deadly be thy sword and bright,—
Heaven send thee will to fight!