Katharine Lee Bates

(1859-1929 / United States)

Soldiers To Pacifists - Poem by Katharine Lee Bates

NOT ours to clamor shame on you,
Nor fling a bitter blame on you,
Nor brand a cruel name on you,
That evil name of treason,
You who have heard the ivory flutes,
Who float white banners, brave recruits
Of Peace, seeking to pluck her fruits
In bud and blossom season.
A sterner bugle calls to us;
More direful duty falls to us;
God grants no garden-walls to us
Till the scarred waste be delivered
From dragon passions that destroy
All sanctitudes of faith and joy;
We, too, are on divine employ;
By sword shall sword be shivered.
Cherish your bud, star-eyed of bloom,
Dawn-flower of hope, belied of gloom,
While, surges of the tide of doom,
The gathering nations thunder
Against a red, colossal throne;
Cherish it, that the seed be sown
At last even where that monstrous stone
Crushes life's roots asunder.
Follow your flutes the fairy way;
Wing-sandaled, climb the airy way,
The wonderful, unwary way,
Too lovely for derision;
While we, your comrades at the goal,
Step to the drum-beat and unroll
The flag of Freedom, every soul
Obedient to its vision.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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