Patriotic pieces from the Great War/In Praise of Righteous War
IN PRAISE OF RIGHTEOUS WAR
I am coming not in a weakling's verse, with a milksop's feeble whine,
With uplifted hand and with soft-voiced drawl, aghast at the battle-line;
But I come to praise the fight that is fought for the sake of Truth and Right,
The fight that is fought for God and for Home, that will mate the Right with Might.
Yes, patience is good, and humility, too, and so is the pipe of peace;
But the time will come when forbearance ends, and your sugary smiles must cease;
Then either your hand must grip at your gun and brighten the sword from its rust,
Or your slavish neck must bend to the yoke, and your mouth must chew the dust.
You must fight for the fire that toasts your feet, for the roof that shelters your head,
For the herd that yields you its milk or meat, for the field that gives you bread;
You must fight for bed, you must fight for board, for the woman you love the best.
And, oh, you must fight with a tenfold will for the baby at her breast.
When a mad dog comes down your village street, with the green foam in his jaws,
Do you greet him with Bibles and hymn-books, and lovingly bid him pause?
When a rattlesnake rises amidst your path, alert with its fiery sting,
Do you pet him, and pat him, and wish him well, and a song of welcome sing?
When a big-armed bully among the Powers says the folk of a little land
Must sprawl in the dirt and confess to a crime that never besmirched their land,
Do you blame that people that rises up a pigmy ready to fight,
A David aroused, with only a sling, defying Goliath's might?
When a vain war-lord with a swollen head, inflamed with a brute desire,
Through a little State that was lapped in peace comes tramping with blood and fire
Despoiling the fields and looting the towns—do you blame that blameless state
For rousing in Godlike righteous wrath and hitting with righteous hate?
And war is the great Arouser; it silences whimpering tongues;
It toughens the muscles, it hardens the fist, and brings fresh air to the lungs;
Though it comes with torch and it strikes with steel, and shorten's life's petty span,
That life it exalts to heroic heights, so a man is twice a man.
Yes, patience is good, and so is peace; but he is not worthy of good,
Who will not rush forth when the spoiler comes to defend it with his blood;
When that spoiler comes with his bandit crew to shatter with shot and shell,
Let the good man rise, with a fervent prayer, and give him hell for hell!