Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

The Two Armies - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Once over the ocean in distant lands,
In an age long past, were two hostile bands-
Two armies of men, both brave, both strong,
And their hearts beat high as they marched along
To fight the battle of right and wrong.

Never, I think, did the Eye of heaven
Look down on two armies so nearly even
In well-trained soldiers, in strength and might.
But one was the
, and one was the
And the last was the stronger in heaven's sight.
And these hostile armies drew near, one night,
And pitched their tents on two hill-sides green,
With only the brow of a hill between.

With the first red beams of the morning light
Both knew would open the awful fight,
And one of the armies lay hushed and still,
And slept in the tents on the green side-hill.
Heart beat with heart: and they all were as one
In the thought of the battle to be begun
With the first bright glance of the morning sun.
Their aim was ignoble, their cause was wrong,
But they were
, and so they were strong.

Not so the army just over the hill:
While the ranks of the foe were hushed and still,
The ranks of the
were torn with strife,
And with noise and confusion the air was rife.
Disputes and quarrels, dissensions and jars,
And the sound of fighting, and civil wars;
And, ere the morning, brother and brother,
Instead of the enemy, fought with each other.

Over the hill, the foe, in glee,
Listened and laughed. 'Ho ho!' quoth he.
'There is strife in the enemy's ranks, I see,
And the bright red beams of the rising sun
Will see a victory easily won.
It matters little how strong the foe,
This is a truth we all do know:

There is no success without unity,

However noble the cause may be.
The day is ours before it's begun.
Ho! for the triumph so easily won.'

And on the morrow, the ranks of the Right
Were routed and beaten, and put to flight,
And the Wrong was the victor, and gained the fight.

There are two armies abroad to-day,
As in the age that has passed away.
The makers, and venders, and patrons, and all
Who aid in the traffic of Alcohol,
These are the warriors, bold and strong,
Who swell the ranks of the army of Wrong.
And we are the soldiers, true and brave,
Who are striving with heart and hand to save
The youths of our land from the deep, dark grave
That the foe is digging by day and by night.
one thing
can defeat the Right.
There is nothing but triumph for us, unless

, that crafty foe to success,
Creeps into our ranks. Oh! let us
Let heart beat with heart as we enter the fight;
Let the whole mighty army be
for the time,
And sweep on the foe in a column sublime
In its unity, earnestness, oneness, and might,
Till the foe stands aghast at the wonderful sight,
Till the enemy cowers and shivers, afraid
Of the awful approach of the grand cavalcade.
Close up the ranks, brothers! sisters, draw near,
We are fighting one fight, we are all kinsmen here.
Closer, still closer! in nearness lies might.
Love is our watchword-on to the fight!

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010

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