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Pro Patria is a pamphlet of seven poems by Florence Earle Coates that was published one hundred years ago in support of American involvement in World War I. A Philadelphia poet, Mrs. Coates, was abroad in early August 1914 at the outbreak of the war. She was witness to soldiers entrained for northern France marching along the quays of Marseilles. In an early poem entitled "War", she responded to this sight, lamenting the "hell of pain" that war makes of earth. But for Coates, to "have looked with anguished eyes / On things no eye should see" and do nothing is shameful and tantamount to cowardice.

Coates penned nearly thirty poems relating to the war between 1914 and 1919. The poems contained in Pro Patria sound a call to eschew fear, and to embrace sacrifice and courage in the face of pain while taking up the cause of the innocent:

U.S. Army soldiers in France, c. 1919 cph.3b14478.jpg

Deem not that we, whom our fathers before us
Taught to love freedom and died to make free,
Coward shall fly, while the Heavens are o'er us,
Craft of the ether or boats under sea.

***

If they tell you that we think,
When the robber comes by night
And we see 'neath murderous Might
Innocence unfriended sink,
We should be "too proud to fight"—
Don't believe it!

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