Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CUBA, by EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN



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First Line: Is it naught? Is it naught
Last Line: Speak at last!
Subject(s): Cuba - Rebellions Against Spanish Rule


Is it naught? Is it naught
That the South-wind brings her wail to our shore,
That the spoilers compass our desolate sister?
Is it naught? Must we say to her, "Strive no more,"
With the lips wherewith we loved her and kissed her?
With the mocking lips wherewith we said,
"Thou art the dearest and fairest to us
Of all the daughters the sea hath bred,
Of all green-girdled isles that woo us!"
Is it naught?

Must ye wait? Must ye wait,
Till they ravage her gardens of orange and palm,
Till her heart is dust, till her strength is water?
Must ye see them trample her, and be calm
As priests when a virgin is led to slaughter?
Shall they smite the marvel of all lands, --
The nation's longing, the Earth's completeness, --
On her red mouth dropping myrrh, her hands
Filled with fruitage and spice and sweetness?
Must ye wait?

In the day, in the night,
In the burning day, in the dolorous night,
Her sun-browned cheeks are stained with weeping.
Her watch-fires beacon the misty height: --
Why are her friends and lovers sleeping?
"Ye, at whose ear the flatterer bends,
Who were my kindred before all others, --
Hath he set your hearts afar, my friends?
Hath he made ye alien, my brothers,
Day and night?"

Hear ye not? Hear ye not
From the hollow sea the sound of her voice;
The passionate far-off tone which sayeth:
"Alas, my brothers! alas, what choice, --
The lust that shameth, the sword that slayeth?
They bind me! they rend my delicate locks;
They shred the beautiful robes I won me!
My round limbs bleed on the mountain rocks:
Save me, ere they have quite undone me!"
Hear ye not?

Speak at last! Speak at last!
In the might of your strength, in the strength of your right,
Speak out at last to the treacherous spoiler!
Say: "Will ye harry her in our sight?
Ye shall not trample her down, nor soil her!
Loose her bonds! let her rise in her loveliness, --
Our virginal sister; or, if ye shame her,
Dark Amnon shall rue for her sore distress,
And her sure revenge shall be that of Tamar!"
Speak at last!





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