Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CHALLENGE, by HENRY CHAPPELL



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THE CHALLENGE, by            
First Line: I hear men say, he changes as the wind
Last Line: What man of you can say I writ a lie?
Subject(s): Courage; Valor; Bravery


I HEAR men say, he changes as the wind,
Faith, doubt, intolerance, alternate sings,
How may we know the in-ness of his mind
Or hear the voice of Truth 'midst warring strings?

Or how respond to songs of love and life,
Or thrill to cadences of mournful tone
When the same lips that wake them seem at strife
And voicing every passion save their own?

How much of verity the plaint contains
I leave who cares to vouch for or deny;
I do but weave the burden of my strains
From men and women, earth, air, sea and sky.

I sing of things that are, and aye will be
So long as holds the blight of primal curse;
Up to the things I know and feel and see
I hold the feeble mirror of my verse.

So if amid my song some doubts and fears
O'er-shadow Faith, or that which bears the name,
Think you the past has known, or future years
Bring forth one soul who will not know the same?

Intolerant perchance, and wherefore not?
Are toil and food and sleep man's whole estate?
Sharing with animals a common lot,
Waiting as mendicants the doles of Fate?

Intolerant! Ye gods! With Life a cage
That poverty has locked and sold the key,
Bonding her millions whom their lot assuage
By kissing chains and shouting they are free.

There, there, I give them rods wherewith to beat,
My muse and me with usual critic ruth,
A wiser scribe would roll in honeyed sweet
The things they want to hear and gulp for truth.

Still, you who sit in judgment, critics, friends,
(The terms can be synonymous)—I do defy
You and the world unto its farmost ends—
What man of you can say I writ a lie?





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