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Glad banners are waving, hands clapping and hurrying feet Thronging after the laurel-crowned victors, I stand on the
field of defeat In the shadow, with those who are fallen, and wounded, and
dying, and there Chant a requiem low, place my hand on their pain-knotted
brows, breathe a prayer, Hold the hand that is helpless and whisper, "They only the
victory win Who have fought the good fight and have vanquished the
demon that tempts us within, Who have held to their faith unseduced by the prize that the
world holds on high, Who have dared for a high cause to suffer, resist, fight-if
need be, to die.” Speak, History! Who are life's victors? Unroll the long
annals and say, Are they those whom the world called the victors,—who
won the success of a day? The martyrs, or Nero? The Spartans who fell at Ther
mopylæ's tryst, Or the Persians and Xerxes? His judges, or Socrates? Pilate, or Christ?
William Wetmore Story (1819-1895)
“THEY WENT FORTH TO BATTLE BUT THEY
THEY went forth to battle but they always fell;
Their eyes were fixed above the sullen shields; Nobly they fought and bravely, but not well, And sank heart-wounded by a subtle spell.
They knew not fear that to the foeman yields,
They were not weak, as one who vainly wields
It was a secret music that they heard,
A sad sweet plea for pity and for peace; And that which pierced the heart was but a word, Though the white breast was red-lipped where the sword
Pressed a fierce cruel kiss, to put surcease
On its hot thirst, but drank a hot increase. Ah, they by some strange troubling doubt were stirred, And died for hearing what no foeman heard.
They went forth to battle but they always fell:
Their might was not the might of lifted spears;
Their wreaths are willows and their tribute, tears;
Their names are old sad stories in men's ears; Yet they will scatter the red hordes of Hell, Who went to battle forth and always fell.
Shaemas O Sheel (18
Oh, Masters, you who rule the world,
Will you not wait with me awhile,
And all the fields with harvest smile?
I ask you but, when you are tired,
Are weighed and worshiped and desired.
of the Mart, the Loom,
The pick-axe, ringing on the rocks,-
While restful twilight broods above,
See in my songs how women love.
We shared your lonely watch by night,
We knew you faithful at the helm,
That saved a soul, or wrecked a realm;
Ah, how our hearts leapt forth to you,
In pride and joy, when you prevailed, And when you died, serene and true:
-We wept in silence when you failed!
Oh, brain, that did not gain the gold!
Oh, arm, that could not wield the sword,
You played and lost the game? What then?
The rules are harsh and hard, we know;
Whom we in secret reverence so.
Lay in the hour you laughed and kissed;
The laurels that his father missed?
Ay, you who win, and you who lose,
Whether you triumph,--or despair,When your returning footsteps choose
The homeward track, our love is there. For, since the world is ordered thus,
To you, the fame, the stress, the sword, We can but wait, until to us
You give yourselves, for our reward.
To Whaler's deck and Coral beach,
To lonely Ranch and Frontier-Fort,
I lay the cable of my thought.
(Though who am I, to give you praise?) Since what you are, and work you
I know you not, -your tents are far.
Laurence Hope (1865-1904)
A MAN said unto his Angel:
“The terrible Kings are on me
Then said to the man his Angel:
“As judged by the little judges
“Thy will is the sovereign measure
“Though out of the past they gather,
“And Grief, in a cloud of banners,
“While Kings of eternal evil
“To fear not sensible failure,
Louise Imogen Guiney (1861–
THEY bear no laurels on their sunless brows,
Nor aught within their pale hands as they go;
They look as men accustomed to the slow
These of the dark processionals of woe,
Unpraised, unblamed, but whom sad Acheron's flow
They were—say not too weak!—too ready prey
Made them as stone for aught of great essay;
Arthur Upson (1877-1908)
THE MEN OF OLD
I KNOW not that the men of old
Were better than men now,
Of more ingenuous brow:
A ghost of Time to raise,
Of these appointed days.
Still it is true, and over-true,
That I delight to close
And let my thoughts repose