Karle Wilson Baker (1878 - 1960 / United States)
They held a great prayer-service in Berlin,
And augured German triumph from some words
Said to be spoken by the Jewish God
To Gideon, which signified that He
Was staunchly partial to the Israelites.
The aisles were thronged; and in the royal box
(I had it from a tourist who was there,
Clutching her passport, anxious, like the rest),
There sat the Kaiser, looking 'very sad.'
And then they sang; she said it shook the heart.
The women sobbed; tears salted bearded lips
Unheeded; and my friend looked back and saw
A young girl crumple in her mother's arms.
They carried out a score of them, she said,
While German hearts, through bursting German throats
Poured out, Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott!
(Yea, 'Unser Gott! Our strength is Unser Gott!
Not that light-minded Bon Dieu of France!')
I think we all have made our God too small.
There was a young man, a good while ago,
Who taught that doctrine... but they murdered him
Because he wished to share the Jewish God
With other folk.
They are long-lived, these fierce
Old hating Gods of nations; but at last
There surely will be spilled enough of blood
To drown them all! The deeps of sea and air,
Of old the seat of gods, no more are safe,
For mines and monoplanes. The Germans, now,
Can surely find and rout the God of France
With Zeppelins, or some slim mother's son
Of Paris, or of Tours, or Brittany,
Can drop a bomb into the Feste Burg,
And, having crushed the source of German strength,
Die happy in his blazing monoplane.
Sad jesting! If there be no God at all,
Save in the heart of man, why, even so --
Yea, all the more, -- since we must make our God,
Oh, let us make Him large enough for all,
Or cease to prate of Him! If kings must fight,
Let them fight for their glory, openly,
And plain men for their lands and for their homes,
And heady youths, who go to see the fun,
Blaspheme not God. True, maybe we might leave
The God of Germany to some poor frau
Who cannot go, who can but wait and mourn,
Except that she will teach Him to her sons --
A God quite scornful of the Slavic soul,
And much concerned to keep Alsace-Lorraine.
They should go godless, too -- the poor, benumbed
Crushed, anguished women, till their hearts can hold
A greater Comforter!
(Yet it is hard
To make Him big enough! For me, I like
The English and the Germans and the French,
The Russians, too; and Servians, I should think,
Might well be very interesting to God.
But, do the best I may, my God is white,
And hardly takes a nigger seriously
This side of Africa. Not those, at least
Who steal my wood, and of a summer night
Keep me awake with shouting, where they sit
With monkey-like fidelity and glee
Grinding through their well-oiled sausage-mill --
The dead machinery of the white man's church --
Raw jungle-fervor, mixed with scraps sucked dry
Of Israel's old sublimities: not those.
And when they threaten us, the Higher Race,
Think you, which side is God's? Oh, let us pray
Lest blood yet spurt to wash that black skin white,
As now it flows because a German hates
A Cossack, and an Austrian a Serb!)
What was it that he said so long ago,
The young man who outgrew the Jewish God --
'Not a sparrow falleth --?' Ah, God, God,
And there shall fall a million murdered men!
Comments about this poem (Unser Gott by Karle Wilson Baker )
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