A Creed (Mackintosh)

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For works with similar titles, see A Creed.
A Highland Regiment and Other Poems  (1916)  by Ewart Alan Mackintosh
A Creed
The final two lines of this poem were used on the Scottish American War Memorial in Edinburgh when it was constructed in 1927.

OUT of the womb of time and dust of the years forgotten,
  Spirit and fire enclosed in mutable flesh and bone,
Came by a road unknown the thing that is me for ever,
  The lonely soul of a man that stands by itself alone.

This is the right of my race, the heritage won by my fathers.
  Theirs by the years of fighting, theirs by the price they paid,
Making a son like them, careless of hell or heaven,
  A man that can look in the face of the gods and be not afraid.

Poor and weak is my strength and I cannot war against heaven.
  Strong, too strong are the gods; but there is one thing that
    I can
Claim like a man unshamed, the full reward of my virtues,
  Pay like a man the price for the sins I sinned as a man.

Now is the time of trial, the end of the years of fighting,
  And the echoing gates roll back on the country I cannot see
If it be life that waits I shall live for ever unconquered.
  If death I shall die at last strong in my pride and free.

Vimy Ridge, 1916

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.