Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

The Temperance Army - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Though you see no banded army,
Though you hear no cannons rattle,
We are in a mighty contest,
We are fighting a great battle.
We are few, but we are right:
And we wage the holy fight,
Night and day, and day and night.

If we do not fail or falter,
If we do not sleep or slumber,
We shall win in this great contest,
Though the foe is twice our number.
This the burden of our song,
'We are few, but we are strong,
And right must triumph over wrong.'

O my sisters! O my brothers!
There is death all round about us.
Must we, then, sit down discouraged?
Will you let the wine-cup rout us?
Hear the drunkard's awful wail!
See the mourners, bowed and pale!
Will you, coward, then say 'fail'?

Say not that your heart is with us
When you do not help or aid us.
All who love the cause sincerely
Can do something: God has made us
Tongues to talk with: you can say
Something, if you will, each day,
That will help us on our way,

Though you are not highly gifted,
Though you are not bard or poet,
Though you cannot preach or lecture,
You can love the cause, and show it
Boldly, in each thing you do.
Seeking all that's pure and true,
This will be a help from you.

You can say the liquor traffic
Is a curse to any nation;
You can say that prohibition
Is a blessing and salvation.
You can sow good seeds, and, though
You may never see them grow,
They will not be lost, I know.

In this mighty temperance contest,
Where no guns or cannons rattle,
Though you cannot lead the army
Or be chieftain of the battle,
With that mighty sword, the tongue,
You can fight against the wrong,
You can sing some temperance song.

Say not that you cannot aid us!
Drops of water make the river-
Make the mighty Mississippi,
That flows on hand on for ever.
Every word you say for Right
Gives us courage, gives us might,
And brings nearer, morn and night.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010

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