A Curse For A Nation



    I heard an angel speak last night,
    And he said "Write!
    Write a Nation's curse for me,
    And send it over the Western Sea."

    I faltered, taking up the word:
    "Not so, my lord!
    If curses must be, choose another
    To send thy curse against my brother.

    "For I am bound by gratitude,
    By love and blood,
    To brothers of mine across the sea,
    Who stretch out kindly hands to me."

    "Therefore," the voice said, "shalt thou write
    My curse to-night.
    From the summits of love a curse is driven,
    As lightning is from the tops of heaven."

    "Not so," I answered. "Evermore
    My heart is sore
    For my own land's sins: for little feet
    Of children bleeding along the street:

    "For parked-up honors that gainsay
    The right of way:
    For almsgiving through a door that is
    Not open enough for two friends to kiss:

    "For love of freedom which abates
    Beyond the Straits:
    For patriot virtue starved to vice on
    Self-praise, self-interest, and suspicion:

    "For an oligarchic parliament,
    And bribes well-meant.
    What curse to another land assign,
    When heavy-souled for the sins of mine?"

    "Therefore," the voice said, "shalt thou write
    My curse to-night.
    Because thou hast strength to see and hate
    A foul thing done within thy gate."

    "Not so," I answered once again.
    "To curse, choose men.
    For I, a woman, have only known
    How the heart melts and the tears run down."

    "Therefore," the voice said, "shalt thou write
    My curse to-night.
    Some women weep and curse, I say
    (And no one marvels), night and day.

    "And thou shalt take their part to-night,
    Weep and write.
    A curse from the depths of womanhood
    Is very salt, and bitter, and good."

    So thus I wrote, and mourned indeed,
    What all may read.
    And thus, as was enjoined on me,
    I send it over the Western Sea.

    The Curse

    Because ye have broken your own chain
    With the strain
    Of brave men climbing a Nation's height,
    Yet thence bear down with brand and thong
    On souls of others, for this wrong
    This is the curse. Write.

    Because yourselves are standing straight
    In the state
    Of Freedom's foremost acolyte,
    Yet keep calm footing all the time
    On writhing bond-slaves, for this crime
    This is the curse. Write.

    Because ye prosper in God's name,
    With a claim
    To honor in the old world's sight,
    Yet do the fiend's work perfectly
    In strangling martyrs, for this lie
    This is the curse. Write.

    Ye shall watch while kings conspire
    Round the people's smouldering fire,
    And, warm for your part,
    Shall never dare O shame!
    To utter the thought into flame
    Which burns at your heart.
    This is the curse. Write.

    Ye shall watch while nations strive
    With the bloodhounds, die or survive,
    Drop faint from their jaws,
    Or throttle them backward to death;
    And only under your breath
    Shall favor the cause.
    This is the curse. Write.

    Ye shall watch while strong men draw
    The nets of feudal law
    To strangle the weak;
    And, counting the sin for a sin,
    Your soul shall be sadder within
    Than the word ye shall speak.
    This is the curse. Write.

    When good men are praying erect
    That Christ may avenge His elect
    And deliver the earth,
    The prayer in your ears, said low,
    Shall sound like the tramp of a foe
    That's driving you forth.
    This is the curse. Write.

    When wise men give you their praise,
    They shall praise in the heat of the phrase,
    As if carried too far.
    When ye boast your own charters kept true,
    Ye shall blush; for the thing which ye do
    Derides what ye are.
    This is the curse. Write.

    When fools cast taunts at your gate,
    Your scorn ye shall somewhat abate
    As ye look o'er the wall;
    For your conscience, tradition, and name
    Explode with a deadlier blame
    Than the worst of them all.
    This is the curse. Write.

    Go, wherever ill deeds shall be done,
    Go, plant your flag in the sun
    Beside the ill-doers!
    And recoil from clenching the curse
    Of God's witnessing Universe
    With a curse of yours.
    This is the curse. Write.


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