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

Robert Underwood Johnson (1853–1937)

Moods of the Soul

I—In Time of Victory

AS soldiers after fight confess

The fear their valor would not own

When, ere the battle’s thunder-stress,

The silence made its mightier moan:

Though now the victory be mine,

’Tis of the conflict I must speak,

Still wondering how the Hand Divine

Confounds the mighty with the weak.

To-morrow I may flaunt the foe—

Not now; for in the echoing beat

Of fleeing heart-throbs well I know

The bitterness of near defeat.

O friends! who see but steadfast deeds,

Have grace of pity with your praise.

Crown if you must, but crown with weeds,—

The conquered more deserve your bays.

No, praise the dead!—the ancestral roll

That down their line new courage send,

For moments when against the soul

All hell and half of heaven contend.

II—In Time of Defeat

YES, here is undisguised defeat;

You say, “No further fight to lose”:

With colors in the dust, ’tis meet

That tears should flow and looks accuse.

I echo every word of ruth

Or blame; yet have I lost the right

To praise with you the unfaltering truth,

Whose power—save in me—has might?

Another day, another man;

I am not now what I have been:

Each grain that through the hour-glass ran

Rescued the sinner from his sin.

The future is my constant friend;

Above all children born to her

Alike her rich affections bend—

She, the unchiding comforter.

Perhaps on her unsullied scroll,

(Who knows?) there may be writ at last

A fairer record of the soul

For this dark blot upon the past.