Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SONG FOR REVOLUTION, by GEORGE CABOT LODGE



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A SONG FOR REVOLUTION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tho' the red-litten cities are shameless and the rulers are guilty with gold
Last Line: "for man's world is a fashion and only man's body and soul are of price!"
Subject(s): Revolutions


Tho' the red-litten cities are shameless and the rulers are guilty with gold,
Tho' the lips of the prophet are flameless and the shrines of the sacrifice cold,
Tho' the shadow of freedom departed lies deep in the paths where She pressed,
Tho', a goddess, She grieves broken-hearted for the children who starve at her breast,

Tho' the forehead forsaken of bay-leaves is bound with a circlet of blood
And the sweat that the labour of day leaves brews the wine of the mercy of God,
Tho' we lose all the loves that besought us, tho' our children rejoice in their chains,
Still we cling, as our visions have taught us, to the faith of our raptures and pains!

And tho' Nations forsake the desire and the faith of immutable things,
Tho' the earth be subdued for their hire who rejoice in the cities of kings,
Tho' the whole earth be theirs for their pleasure, and every man master or slave,
Still the sea can afford beyond measure the inheritance perfect we crave!

We can pass where the sand on the shore is made smooth as the breast of a girl,
Where the waves whisper marvellous stories and the tideways are lustrous as pearl,
Where the crest of the breakers in onset subsides in a welter of blood
As the flame of the sword of the sunset is plunged in the breast of the flood;

Where the sea-splintered lightning of noon lies in the lap of the long afternoon,
By the fire of the pharos of moonrise, with the faultless, frail feet of the moon,
Over meadows of midnight where starlight lies scattered like dew on a lawn,
Let us forth so we follow the far light of freedom, the soul's light of dawn!

Let us go with the wind and the twilight behind us, the rain in our hair,
With a star on the brows of the shy night in ineffable heights of the air;
The wide waters before us shall whiten, the horizon that bound us be rent,
And no longer our hearts as they lighten shall grieve or complain or repent!

We have seen that the progress they praise is of tears and enslavement and blood,
Tho' they honor with blasphemous phrases their crimes as the service of God;
In their mines where the serfs they control press, in their factories reeking with coal
They must labor until they are soulless, and the birthright of man is his soul!

Tho' rejected of men we seem friendless, yet all nature itself is our home,
For we come as the last of an endless procession and sing as we come!
But they, faithless and cold to the kernel, with their minds in dogmatic control,
They have lost the divine and eternal strong joys of the body and soul!

And we bear as our brothers before us the message eternal and new,
The exultant, unspeakable chorus of the souls that are tender and true,
And our word for each comrade is, "Theeward all joys in the universe trend,
"If thou darest with us to go seaward, on the seas of the soul without end!

"If thou darest go forth from the phrases that cheat, from the laws that restrain,
"From the shrines where the high-priest who prays is untrue and the servant of gain,
"Then the light and the love shall not perish but endure to illumine the years,
"For the fire of rebellion we cherish is Promethean and ours by our tears."

It is naught if the loveliest spaces of earth bear the soilure of greed
For a day or an eon effaces the purpose, the profit, the deed;
It is naught if they bring us disaster, if they blacken the skies in our ken,
But we weep for the slave and the master, for the stunted and loveless, the men!

It is naught if a man be defeated, it is naught if he suffer and die,
It is naught if he starve and is cheated by the greedy who pillage and lie,
It is much if reduced to a fashion or bound in whatever control,
His body is scanted of passion, or he forfeits the light of his soul!

And we whisper to all men and women, "Lo! the light is at hand, and the way,
"Be it strange, be it guarded with foemen, is broad as the justice of day;
"You shall no more be joyless or lonely, our secret shall amply suffice,
"For man's world is a fashion and only man's body and soul are of price!"





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