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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Henry M. Sage (1868–1933)

Poems of the Great War: Awake! America

THREE years—with all the elder nations locked

In war, and writhing in its agony;

Three years—with holiest right and feeling mocked

On sea and land, and back from land to sea;

Three years of fattening on others’ woe;

Of golden streams that hid the starry light

Of honor—now, thank God! at last we know

America’s awake—and for the right.

Our fight—the torch was lit at Lexington

And blazed at Bunker Hill and shone as clear

At Gettysburg. The liberty we won

Was for the world, and brighter year by year

The light has grown. And now, upon its knees,

From out the slime has crawled an evil Thing

With bloody iron hand outstretched to seize

The torch and quench it.—Shall the ages sing

Alone of splendid France who sprang to arms

And lifted high the light, and backward hurled

The hordes of darkness o’er her blackened farms—

Freedom’s new champion—glory of the world:

Of Britain roused and grim—our Motherland—

With hand unswerving on the furrowing plough,

No backward look—no trembling of the hand;

We ne’er were prouder of our birth than now;

Of Russia born anew and stretching hands

Across the sea in freedom’s brotherhood,

Of Italy who left her sunny lands

To fight through snow and avalanche and flood;

Of bleeding Belgium nursing still the spark

Of sacred fire within her stricken breast?

Are we alone to grovel in the dark

And give of dross when we should give our best?

No! and a thousand times, No! This is yet

Our fight, our privilege, our highest goal.

Blot out the years of doubt. Forget! Forget!

We are awake. Thank God! we’ve found our Soul.

Tramp, tramp, tramp.

There is our answer to the bitter sneers

That we were swine with gold our only God.

There is the answer ringing in our ears,—

Timed with our heart-beats. Firm as ever trod

This land of ours the willing footsteps fall—

As proud and glad the lads go marching by

Bearing aloft the torch; to give their all

And show the world they too know how to die.

Tramp, tramp, tramp.

From Northern forest, from the sun-kissed shore

Of dreamy Southland, from the Western plain,

From city, town and hamlet, as of yore,

The answer sounds, “We come, we come again;

“The kin of all who made our country free

“To light the world, the sons of blue and gray;

“With all we have and are and wish to be;

“Our country calls—we come, we come to-day

“To man the ships that strain their leashes taut,

“Impatient for the word to cross the wave—

“Where Jones and Farragut and Dewey fought—

“To send the hidden death to hidden grave;

“To fill the ranks, to answer every call

“To do or die where’er the flag may lead;

“Another million, if a million fall;

“And freemen all—ten million if you need;

“To show to other men that we are men

“Willing to meet our God in Death’s mad dance;

“To bear the starry flag, unsoiled, again

“Unshamed beside the starry Soul of France.”

Tramp, tramp, tramp.

And are there any yet who do not hear,

That sound, insistent, filling all the land;

Or, hearing it, heed not its meaning clear;

Or, heeding, have not hearts to understand?

The Nation’s Soul has spoken. Know it now

Ye fools who dream of peace unarmed by right.

Our Youth is ready, calm of eye and brow,

But ready, with a naked sword, as bright

And clean as Honor, clasped within his hand,

And, clean and glad, he goes to meet his God,

To save your honor, and to keep your land

Unsullied as the land your fathers trod.

Our Youth is ready—not to be denied.

Uphold his hands. He asks—do not deny

His highest right—to stand and die beside

The men who’ve shown that they know how to die.

For this is war—our war—and others fight

To slay the Beast that we too may be free.

Ours is the Nation’s honor, clean and bright

Our task to keep it, if we are to be

Of that high brotherhood. To arms! To arms!

For Liberty’s at bay—the Beast is strong.

Swift must our answer be to war’s alarms.

Our place is in the van upon the long

Red battle line, where valor cleansed by fires

Beckons all free men. There,—with flag unfurled,—

We’ll show the world we’re worthy of our sires,—

Until we blot forever from the world

This hideous foe of light.—The night is o’er.

Our path is straight—and shining is the goal.

Awake! America—from shore to shore,—

And look not back. Thank God! We’ve found our Soul.