Katharine Lee Bates

(1859-1929 / United States)

The Conqueror - Poem by Katharine Lee Bates

Not the Prussian, the forsworn,
By whose fury overborne,
Martyred Belgium, you lie
Bruised with all injury.
Through your peace red paths he clove,
Burning, slaying, making spoil
Of your shining treasure-trove,
Ancient wisdom, beauty, toil;
Drenching hearth and shrine and sod
With the blood that cries to God.
Futile all that savage force.
Time in his aeonian course
Still shall clarion your fame.
Yours the triumph;his the shame.
On your honor he made war,
But his guns have battered down
Only forts. Inheritor
Of unparalleled renown,
Belgium, your name shall be
Brighter than Thermopylæ.
None could scorn you, had you said:
'Hopeless are the odds, and dread
Will the fiery vengeance fall
On our homes. In vain we call
For help that still delays. We yield.'
But unflinching from your fate,
Up you flung your slender shield,
Bore the onset, held the gate
For the priceless hour, and saved
Liberty, yourself enslaved.
No; thrust down to serfdom, still
Your unmasterable will,
Your high fortitude and faith
Outwear exile, anguish, death.
On his strip of coast your king
Holds your glorious flag unfurled;
Your great priest, unfaltering,
Peals the truth across the world.
With your neck beneath the sword,
You are victor, you are lord.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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