African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Benjamin Griffith Brawley, "New Wars" (1900)

HURL on the lance! Break up the ancient peace!
Now let the arrow hiss in air and sing;
Now let the spear-point on the armor ring;
Sound forth the call to wars that never cease!

Ye hoot the yellow Mongol from your land;
But forth to regions all his own ye go
To reap the riches of his overflow,
And just ye call the working of your hand!

Now see the scramble of the Christian host--
Them all press forward for the spoil that's won;
New wars! new wars! ris'n on the olden one--
And this, this the enlightened freeman's boast!

But greater is the strife than here would seem,
And wider realms embracing than the East,
For that is but the remnant of the feast.
I had a vision. (Was it all a dream?)

The weary Titan groaned beneath the weight
Of nations growing weaker day by day,
Whose men he deemed but men of minor clay,
And destinies he wrought for them their fate.

And why, methought, does not the giant's creed
Cast off the weaklings that would warp his might,
And leave alone the wretches in their plight?
No answer save "I would not" from his greed.

So freedom hails th' advance of king and queen;
The march of mind goes on o'er field and flood;
Republics curb the weak with shows of blood;
And lordly priests profess the Nazarene!

Yet hear the trumpet and the cannon's roar,
The orphan's crying and the widow's wail;
But what of them? Unfurl the sail! flay! flail!
On! on! on to the mighty breach once more!

Published in Colored American Magazine, November 1900

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