Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ANSWER WORLD!, by ANGELA MORGAN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ANSWER WORLD!, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Yes, I believe in armies
Last Line: "here am I! Here am I!"
Subject(s): Army - United States; Injustice; Justice; Nations; Problems; Social Protest; War

"Yes, I believe in armies—
Beautiful, sun-bright armies,
Rising out of the ruins of war
As riseth the morning star;
Swift to the world's salvation,
Splendid, equipped and strong,
Not nation armed against nation,
But men arrayed against wrong.
Braving the perilous places
Where evil and war begin,
Where the deadliest woe of the race is—
Smiting the foe within.

When shall we go where shame and lechery grin,
Break the door, enter in,
Lift the Magdalen's eyes:
'Sister, arise!
Too long for us have you walked the path of the dead,
Too long have our lusts been fed.'
Yes, I believe in armies,
Real men to fight real foes;
Striking straight where the harm is,
Where the root of avarice grows.
O men who thrill
To the bugle shrill,
Have you ever seen
The pitiful, lean
Cheek of a starving child?

Have you heard the wild
Desperate wail of the mother who could not pay
Thrust to the icy street on a brutal day? ...
Picture it now: a broken bed, a chair,
A wretched shawl to cover her despair—
Poor little wreck of a human mother's nest
Sprawling upon the pavement's hostile breast!
This have I seen and more than my pen may tell—
Yea, with these eyes have I looked on the depths of hell
Where men and women, better under the sod—
Men and women, made in the likeness of God!—
Rotted in filth and poverty and disease,
While wealth went glittering by in its golden ease!
Answer, world! when shall we fight for these?

Which of you shall spring to the people's plight?
Answer, soldiers! you who are trained to fight!
I saw two children once—their mother in prison I think—
God! shall I put it in ink?
My shuddering flesh faints when I think of those children,
Think of their dirt, their red-eyed, horrible plight;
Even now as I write,
With the shield of the years between,
I am sick at what I have seen.
O men, O women, you shrink!
You raise offended hands to your horrified eyes—
Would you cure the sore by disguise?
Would you hide the festering wound with tinsel and lace?
Well, cover your face,
Smile and smother your soul as you may,
There will come a day! ...

Yes, I believe in armies, weaponed with nobler laws,
Marching straight
To the enemy's gate
To fight the human cause.
Searching the leprous places
Where sin and pestilence hide,
Where the real foe of the race is,
To smite the leer from the faces
Of Privilege, Lust and Pride.

Hail, ye men of the future!
The world's real patriots ye!
Above the dead I hear your tread that sets the people free!
And I hear the fife, and I hear the drum,
I hear the shouting wherever you come,
And I see the glory in your face
Who march to save the race!
Justice shall be your weapon and the Truth the bomb you hurl,
Flag of united nations the banner you unfurl.
Hail men of the present—do I hear your answering cry?
"Here am I! Here am I!"

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