What of the Day?

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What of the Day?
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Written during the stirring weeks when the great political battle for Freedom under Fremont's leadership was permitting strong hope of success,--a hope overshadowed and solemnized by a sense of the magnitude of the barbaric evil, and a forecast of the unscrupulous and desperate use of all its powers in the last and decisive struggle.


A sound of tumult troubles all the air,
Like the low thunders of a sultry sky
Far-rolling ere the downright lightnings glare;
The hills blaze red with warnings; foes draw nigh,
Treading the dark with challenge and reply.
Behold the burden of the prophet's vision;
The gathering hosts,--the Valley of Decision,
Dusk with the wings of eagles wheeling o'er.
Day of the Lord, of darkness and not light!
It breaks in thunder and the whirlwind's roar
Even so, Father! Let Thy will be done;
Turn and o'erturn, end what Thou bast begun
In judgment or in mercy: as for me,
If but the least and frailest, let me be
Evermore numbered with the truly free
Who find Thy service perfect liberty!
I fain would thank Thee that my mortal life
Has reached the hour (albeit through care and pain)
When Good and Evil, as for final strife,
Close dim and vast on Armageddon's plain;
And Michael and his angels once again
Drive howling back the Spirits of the Night.
Oh for the faith to read the signs aright
And, from the angle of Thy perfect sight,
See Truth's white banner floating on before;
And the Good Cause, despite of venal friends,
And base expedients, move to noble ends;
See Peace with Freedom make to Time amends,
And, through its cloud of dust, the threshing-floor,
Flailed by the thunder, heaped with chaffless grain!