Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO AMERICA IN WAR TIME, by OSCAR W. FIRKINS

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TO AMERICA IN WAR TIME, by            
First Line: Grave hour and solemn choice - bare is the sword
Last Line: Love that we dreamt not, dared not—soar to thee!
Subject(s): World War I - United States


GRAVE hour and solemn choice—bare is the sword.
From the raised altar, kneeling, take the blade.
Be its grasp eucharist and accolade;
High be, and holy, lest thou creep abhorred.
Bethink thee—to the angel of the Lord
None baser, was the slayer's right conveyed:
Of thine own soul, no other's, be afraid;
The hilts of brands are lethal, and have scored
On palms once white the unhealing scar of crime.
Honor with fortune, purity with weal,
Hang trembling in the wind-blown scale of Mars:
Earth is thy judge; the listening deeps of time
Are witness, and yon azure's probing wheel,
And vigils of inexorable stars.


"Be thou but true"—old words which years renew—
Nor suffer blood-gout nor flame's darkling glow
To touch thy heart's inviolable snow.
Go as a nun through bordels. Be thou true!
Let the sun's glance, even as on rose and dew,
Rest on thy sabre. Wraths and greeds forego
Lest skies pale, and thy recreancy know,
Too late, yon cope's estranged, receding blue.
Nor clamp free tongues! Hast thou yet steel to spare
For fetters? Does the sword-arm clank the chain?
Be strong to conquer, mighty to forbear;
Bind us, ay, bind us—but with prayer and pain,
With greatening purpose, till new love, set free—
Love that we dreamt not, dared not—soar to thee!

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