Skip to Content

Take Up The Sword

     War ! Well, let it be War,
       While an enemy stands in the way of what we desire!
        Only the strong may aspire
     To life in a land where the sword is the giver of law.
     Then burn! O heart, burn ! with the fire
    Of unquenchable hatred and ire,
    And tear with a maddened talon and claw
    And win or defeated expire.  

    Lo, they have taken the earth.
       They have chained us to labour and heaped
                    us with sorrow and pain ;
        Have wrung out our blood to their gain.
    They have sneered at our anguish and counted
                  it due to our birth
          That we pull with the ox in the rain.
         That we share in the flush-time of grain
    With the shoat, and starve with the sparrow in dearth —
      All our agonised labour in vain.  

    Oh' we have eaten our fill
      Of the husk, and laid down long enough with
            the oxen and swine;
      We have drunk blood and tears for our wine,
    And wept out the dregs of our hope in the
                             merciless mill.
       We have paid cruel toll in the mine —
       Where the quick and the dead intertwine;
    But now we are turning our backs to the swill,
    Our breasts to the red battle line.  

    Those who bespoil us and take
       The harvest we tear from the earth and drag up
           from the deep,
       Who, whether we wake or we sleep,
    Plunge their beaks in our hearts in a blood-thirst
             no blood-feast can slake.
       They have taught us 'tis folly to weep —
     The Law is to take and to keep
    Who have power. Let them hear it who taught it and quake! —
     They have broken the dream of their sheep.
         
     Take up the sword, then, and fight;
           Having joy in the battle and faith in the
                       winning at last;
                For the day of repining is past.
           And the sun of our hope is dispersing the shadows of night.
               Though we win to it slowly or fast,
               The die of our destiny’s cast.
           They have taught us that only the will of the
                   mighty is Right —
                Then we will be mighty at last.

A. E. Jacomb