Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN APOSTROPHE TO FRANCE, by CHARLES LOUIS HENRY WAGNER

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: I cannot speak thy tongue, o, france
Last Line: La marseilles.
Subject(s): France; Freedom; Liberty

I cannot speak thy tongue, O, France,
Nor can I boast as kin
Of thine,
Oh, that I could,
God knows I would,
For in the heart that beats within
My singing breast, there rings
The iron echoes of momentous things
That proved thy soul, O, France.

This joy is mine,
To sing in alien tongue,
But still to sing
Of commonness with thee, with thine,
For in thy borning sun of Freedom came
The light that gleams in nascent hope
Of men
Who yet are bound by autocratic rule
And gods of falsity and fear,
Whose spirits seeming grope
'Midst doubts and darkness drear,
Whose leaders play the fool.

And oh,
If I can but inflame
My fellows with that holy fire
That burns within thy breast.
And spills from out its frame
On Earth, and mounting higher
Kisses the throne of Heaven,
Then,—then will my song
Be music worthy of thy name,
Of Cause thy life has blest,
And I shall enter heaven.

My debt to thee is still unpaid, O France,
For me thy Maid of Orleans girt
Her shapely form in cased steel,
And taught that Country's weal
Was mine;
My hurt, e'en death—
To keep its starry banner bright
Should be for me a glorious delight,
And LaFayette, with kindred souls who gave
Under thy flag, themselves,
To save
For me and mine the liberties I claim,
Taught me to see in other lands, my own,
Taught me to feel that supine ease is shame,
Nor that alone,
But damned.
And on that great and holy day
When buttressed symbol of the despot's sway
Was hurled to earth
And peasants proved
That men were men and not of lesser birth,
Then was my status as a man made known,
God make me worthy of that day.

And now, O, France,
Thy potted soil
Cries out to me, lest I forget,
Four years, the Vandals, typified
In Lust and Hate,
Have sought to break thy Freedom's gate
And scale the walls and parapet
Of Liberty.
Thy youth hath died
Saving for me that which their fathers gave,
Finding their peace in shell-torn, shallow grave,
And how my blood doth boil
When whispers of inhuman warfare float
Across the sea
To me.

But oh,
I know that in Time's fulness comes
The Day of days,
When France, God's France, brave France,
Will echo with the triumph of the drums
That shall announce the vandal foe's retreat,
Thy Cause upheld, the thief despoiled and fled,
The glorifying of thy worthy dead,
The joyful music of returning feet
Beating a freer dust than that
Of Must,
And ALL shall sing
That song of triumph with its golden note,
La Marseilles.

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