George Essex Evans (18 June 1863 – 10 November 1909 / London, England)
Auri Sacra Fames
Now that the gods are dead—where shall we find us a god?
Myths of the Greek Olympus have sunk in the surge of Time;
And Jehovah, the God of Wrath, who stayed the sun at His nod;
And Jesus, the Nazarene, preaching a dream sublime.
Worship and form may live, practice and faith have fled.
Where shall we find us a god—now that the gods are dead?
What of the Old exists but feels the touch of the New?
Thousands of voices shout: where is the voice that leads?
Thro’ the wreathing mists of night will the grey of dawn be true,
In the age of vague unrest, strivings, and shattered creeds?
Where the children turn with scorn from the paths their fathers trod,
Now that the gods are dead, where shall we find us a god?
Gone are the mists of old in the light of the larger day!
Gone is the foolish hope, the trust in a Power above!
Science has swept the heavens and brushed religion away!
What need we hope or fear? Warfare is clothed like Love!
Priestcraft is but a trade—souls can be bought and sold!
Why should we seek for a god—now that our god is Gold?
Great were the gods of eld—a greater than all is near!
Noblest of all the powers which ruled o’er the soul of man!
Centuries paved the way, now the ideal is here
Product of all the aeons that rolled since the world began!
Millions have toiled for this with sufferings manifold.
This is the triumph of time—the god of the world is Gold!
Worship before his feet and kneel in his holy place,
For his altar is on the hearth and the rolling world is his throne!
With the throb of a votary’s pulse beats the heart of the human race,
From the lips of the child at play sounds the creed we have called our own.
Gather, O sons of men, but not like the men of old:
Savages worshipped honour—we have no god but Gold.
Gather, O sons of men! let us kneel at the sacred shrine.
Beauty was won by deeds—now it is bought and sold!
Justice was deemed of God—now it is scarce divine!
Honour dearer than life—what is honour to Gold?
O daughters, sisters, and wives! beauty was meant to sell!
Let us call the blessing of Heaven on the marriages made in Hell!
Over the marriage chime, and over the requiem’s sigh,
Into the peace of home enters the roar of the mart.
Barter whilst day be day, ere night, when no man may buy!
Nothing too high or low in a world of culture and art!
This is the crowning age, born of the centuries fled
Age of “Sweetness and Light”—now that the gods are dead!
Souls of the mighty dead who lived and died for the right,
Genius inspired of heaven to battle for human need—
These are the days of the dawn, the dawn of diviner light,
When the child at its mother’s breast is lisping the modern creed—
If haply thine eyes may gaze on the paths which thy feet have trod,
Behold, in a godless age, we have sought and found us a god!
Deep from a million throats rises the strain sublime—
“Justice is for the rich, patience is for the poor ;
Wealth is the only good, want is the only crime;
Beauty is for the old if but the price be sure.”
Deep in the whole world’s heart festers the cursèd creed.
Yea, though the gods be dead, we have found us a god indeed!
Better the clash of steel and the flag of battle unfurled!
Better the roar of guns and death for the future’s sake!
Than that the curse of Gold should canker the heart of the world.
Where is the voice of the leader? When will the people wake?
Nay! let us fold our hands! Madman, what fool would blight
The star of an age whose Christ is Moloch, the Ammonite?
Nay! for the day draws near when all shall not worship Gold!
Honour shall not be bought, wealth shall not make the man.
All have not turned away from the truths which were loved of old!
All have not toiled in vain since the toil of the world began!
All have not laid their souls at the feet of the idol red.
Some have remembered God—now that the gods are dead
Comments about this poem (Auri Sacra Fames by George Essex Evans )
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