Armistice Day/Victory

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(November 11, 1918)

I heard the bells across the trees,
I heard them ride the plunging breeze
Above the roofs from tower and spire.
And they were leaping like a fire,
And they were shining like a stream
With sun to make its music gleam.
Deep tones as though the thunder tolled,
Cool voices thin as tinkling gold,
They shook the spangled autumn down
From out the tree-tops of the town;
They left great furrows in the air
And made a clangor everywhere
As of metallic wings. They flew
Aloft in spirals to the blue
Tall tent of heaven and disappeared.
And others, swift as though they feared
The people might not heed their cry
Went shouting VICTORY up the sky.
They did not say that war is done,
Only that glory has begun
Like sunrise, and the coming day
Will burn the clouds of war away.
There will be time for dreams again,
And home-coming for weary men.



God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth do change, and though the mountains be moved to the heart of the seas.

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early.

The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth;

He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our refuge.




Make this thing plain to us, O Lord!
That not the triumph of the sword—
Not that alone—can end the strife,
But reformation of the life—
But full submission to Thy Word!
Not all the stream of blood outpoured
Can Peace—the Long-Desired—afford;
Not tears of Mother, Maid, or Wife...
Make this thing plain!

We must root out our sins ignored,
By whatsoever name adored;
Our secret sins, that, ever rife,
Shrink from the operating knife;
Then shall we rise, renewed, restored...
Make this thing plain!



The sun strikes gold the dirty street,
The band blares, the drums insist,
And brown legs twinkle and muscles twist—
Pound!—Pound!—the rhythmic feet.
The laughing street-boys shout,
And a couple of hags come out
To grin and bob and clap.
Stiff rusty black their dresses,
And crispy white their Breton cap,
Prim on white, smooth tresses.

Wait!...Wait!...While dun clouds droop
Over the sunlit docks,
Over the wet gray rocks
And mast of steamer and sloop,
And the old squat towers,
Damp gray and mossy brown,
Where lovely Ann looked down
And dreamed rich dreams through long luxurious hours.

Sudden and swift, it rains!
Familiar, fogging, gray;
It blots the sky away
And cuts the face with biting little pains.
We grunt and poke shoes free of muddy cakes,
Watching them messing out
Upon the dock in thick brown lakes—
"No more French mud!" the sergeant cries,
And some one swears, and some one sighs,
And the neat squads swing about.

Silent the looming hulk above—
No camouflage this time—
She's white and tan and black!
Hurry, bend, climb,
Push forward, stagger back!
How clean the wide deck seems,
The bunks, how trim;
And, oh, the musty smell of ships!
Faces are set and grim,
Thinking of months this hope was pain;
And eyes are full of dreams,
And gay little tunes come springing to the lips—
Home, home, again, again!

She's moving now,
Across the prow
The dusk-soft harbor bursts
Into a shivering bloom of light
From warehouse, warship, transport, tramp,
And countless little bobbing masts
Each flouts the night
With eager boastful lamp—
Bright now, now dimmer, dimmer,
Fewer and fewer glimmer.
Only the lights that mark the passing shore,
Lofty and lonely star the gray—
Then are no more.

We are alone with dusk and creamy spray.

The captain coughs, remembering the rain.
The major coughs, remembering the mud.
Some shudder at the horror of dark blood,
Or wine-wet kisses, lewd.
Some sigh, remembering new loves and farewell pain.
Some smile, remembering old loves to be renewed.
Silent, we stare across the deepening night.
France vanishing!—Swift, swift, the curling waves—
Fights and despair,
And faces, fair;
Proud heads held high
For Victory;
And flags above friends' graves.

The group buzzes, rustles, hums,
Then stiffens as the colonel comes,
A burly figure in the mellow light,
With haughty, kingly ways. He does not scan the night,
Nor hissing spray that flies,
But his cold old glance plays
Along the level of our eyes.

"I don't see very many tears," he says.




Lo, in a thousand citadels
Through the world from east to west,
Slim, tall bayonets upraised:
Silver lightning shafts at rest!

You, who in your eager hands
Held the strands of destiny,
Tireless as Penelope
Wove your web across the sea—

Lay your gleaming weapons down,
Silver, steel and ivory—
Bind them with a laurel wreath—
Theirs...and yours...the victory!



(November 11, 1918)

Oh, gallantly they fared forth in khaki and in blue,
America's crusading host of warriors bold and true;
They battled for the rights of man beside our brave Allies,
And now they're coming home to us with glory in their eyes.

Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
Our hearts are turning home again and there we long to be,
In our beautiful big country beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Our boys have seen the Old World as none have seen before.
They know the grisly horror of the German gods of war:
The noble faith of Britain and the hero-heart of France,
The soul of Belgium's fortitude and Italy's romance.

They bore our country's great word across the rolling sea,
"America swears brotherhood with all the just and free."
They wrote that word victorious on fields of mortal strife,
And many a valiant lad was proud to seal it with his life.

Oh, welcome home in Heaven's peace, dear spirits of the dead!
And welcome home ye living sons America hath bred!
The lords of war are beaten down, your glorious task is done;
You fought to make the whole world free, and the victory is won.

Now it's home again, and home again, our hearts are turning west,
Of all the lands beneath the sun America is best.
We're going home to our own folks, beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.



(Ex-President of the United States, President of the League to Enforce Peace)

The Great War is ended. It will change the map of Europe and the world. As the Christian Era divides the ancient and the modern world, so this war will be a new point of departure in human history.

The victory clinches the moral responsibility of nations and of peoples. It exalts right over might and makes right might. Peoples and leaders may frequently fall away from the ideal of national morality set by this war. But never again will either avow that there is no morality for nations.

The war ends the power of monarchs and dynasties, the divinity that has hedged a king is gone forever. Peoples are to rule.

The war has made the World democratic. Whether it has made it safe depends on the peoples who govern. Democracy is a great boon. It makes for the happiness and welfare of the people, but its best results are only available to a people practiced in self-restraint, intelligent enough to know their own real interest and valuing properly liberty regulated by law. We must expect, therefore, many mistakes in some of the new republics to be set up.

This war, in giving birth to so many new governments without assured stability, increases the chances of international friction. Unless the great powers who have won the war and who are responsible for these nations organize the world to maintain peace among them, war will soon show its grisly head again.

The complexity of the adjustments for which the treaty of peace must provide makes inevitable the continuance of the present league of allied nations and its enlargement. The treaty must provide joint machinery with which to interpret and apply the terms of peace.

It must set up commissions to assess indemnities. It must create tribunals to hear contending peoples as to boundaries, rights of way and rights of access to navigable rivers and the sea.

It must continue its powers of mediation and conciliation long after a treaty has been framed and signed to settle disputes between new-fledged countries and restrain their jealousies and ambitions. They will not be perfect.

Their human frailties will still be present. The great powers must maintain a joint military force to see to it that the terms of the treaty are complied with by the Central Powers.

Bolshevism may interfere with such compliance. If so, we must stamp out Bolshevism without hesitation. We cannot become responsible for the bloody massacre of all but the lowest elements of the population of Germany and Austria as they were for the awful tragedy in Russia.

We may need a combined military force to enforce decisions of the joint tribunals and commissions under the treaty against the new governments. Here then we shall have for the Central Powers and the recently born republics a machinery to maintain peace among them and to compel the administration of justice.

This will be a league to enforce peace for half the world or more. What reason can be given for not extending the operation of this league to settle questions between the great allied powers themselves and between the other nations of the world? None.

If the war is to achieve its highest purpose, need for such a league is imperative.

Let us hope that the people of the United States will demand that their representatives unite with those of our allies in framing it. The peoples of England, France and Italy long for it as the only security worth having against recurrence of war.

Shall our people lag behind? Organized labor of the United States says "No."

So will the other groups of our nation say when they realize that the issue presses and the need for them to speak is at hand.




Victory comes:
Not hard and laughing as she came of yore,
Her scarlet arms heaped high with spoils of war;
Her slaves, to beating drums,
Low-bent and bearing gifts....
The black cloud lifts,
And, lifting our long-weary eyes to see,
There dawns upon our sight,
Majestic, crowned with light,
Stern and so quiet—she must keep her strength
To build at weary length
Over again, our scarred and shattered world—
This, then, ah, this is she,
Our graver Victory.

She follows down the furrows
War-turned across the world,
Where still the spent shell burrows,
Where the black shot was hurled,
And sows the wheat and corn.
The world, from anguish born
Again from its old grief,
Looks up, athirst
And hungering,
Daring to dream again
Of flowers unhurt, and unstained rain
And love and spring:

Knowing that she shall build each place accurst
Into a thing that may some day again
Be our once land of comfort and delight,
Of ease and mockery...
Even forgetfulness:
Even the gift to bless.

Victory paces slowly through the lands:
No lash is in her hands,
She builds herself no triumph-arch for cover,
No common marble toy—
She is too great for joy.
She who upbuilds
Each little shattered home
And brings men back to it: and lover gives to lover,
And to the shattered soul its faith again,
And to the world continuance of God—
How should our praise for her
In high-crowned buildings stand—oh, how be pent
In built or written thing?
The stable world itself is her great monument!


(A Carol at the End of the World War)



Sing and be glad, O nations, in these hours:
Blow clarions from all towers!
Let bright horns revel and the joy-bells rave;
Yet there are lips whose smile is ever vain
And wild wet eyes behind the window-pane,
For whom the whole world dwindles to one grave,
A lone grave at the mercy of the rain.
The victor's laurel wears a wintry leaf:
Sing softly, then, as though the mouth of Grief,
Remembering all the agony and wrong,
Should stir with mighty song.
Not all the glad averment of the guns,
Not all our odes, nor all our orisons,
Can sweeten those intolerable tears,
These silences that fall between the cheers.

And yet our hearts must sing,
Carol and clamor like the tides of spring;
For the great work is ended, and again
The world is safe for men;
The world is safe for high heroic themes;
The world is safe for dreams.


But now above the thunder of the drums—
Where, brightening on, the face of Victory comes—
Hark to a mighty sound,
A cry out of the ground:
Let there be no more battles: field and flood
Are weary of battle blood.
Even the patient stones
Are weary of shrieking shells and dying groans.
Lay the sad swords asleep:
They have their fearful memories to keep.
And fold the flags: they, weary of battle days,
Weary of wild flights up the windy ways.
Quiet the restless flags,
Grown strangely old upon the smoking crags.
Look where they startle and leap—
Look where they hollow and heap—
Now greatening into glory and now thinned,
Living and dying momently on the wind.
And bugles that have cried on sea and land
The silver blazon of their high command—
Bugles that held long parley with the sky—
Bugles that shattered the nights on battle walls,
Lay them to rest in dim memorial halls;
For they are weary of that curdling cry
That tells men how to die.
And cannons worn out with their work of hell—
The brief abrupt persuasion of the shell—
Let the shrewd spider lock them, one by one,
With filmy cables glancing in the sun;
And let the bluebird in their iron throats
Build his safe nest and spill his rippling notes.
Let there be no more battles, men of earth:
The new age rises singing into birth!