African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

Ida B. Luckie, "Retribution" (1916)

Alas, My Country! Thou wilt have no need
Of enemy to bring thee to thy doom
If these be they on whom we must rely
To prove the right and honor of our arms." 
Thus spake Abdullah, gazing, with sad eyes
And heart fear-stricken, on the motley horde
Of Turks now gathered in with feverish haste
To meet the dread, on-coming Bulgar host.
Truly he spake, for scarce the foes had met
When the wild flight began, the vengeful sword
Of the Bulgarian taking fearful toll
As fleeing thousands fall to rise no more.
Surely the years bring on the fatal day
To that dark land, from whose unhallowed ground
The blood of countless innocents so long
Has cried to God, nor longer cries in vain. 
But not alone by war a nation falls.
Tho' she be fair, serene as radiant morn,
Tho' girt by seas, secure in armament,
Let her but spurn the Vision of the Cross;
Tread with contemptuous feet on its command
Of Mercy, Love and Human Brotherhood,
And she, some fateful day, shall have no need
Of enemy to bring her to the dust.
Some day, tho' distant it may be—with God
A thousand years are but as yesterday—
The germs of hate, injustice, violence,
Like an insidious canker in the blood,
Shall eat the nation's vitals. She shall see
Break forth the blood-red tide of anarchy,
Sweeping her plains, laying her cities low,
And bearing on its seething, crimson flood
The wreck of government, of home, and all
The nation's pride, its splendor and its power;
On, with relentless flow, into the sea
Of God's eternal vengeance wide and deep,
But for God's grace! Oh, may it hold thee fast,
My Country, until justice shall prevail
O'er wrong and o'er oppression's cruel power,
And all that makes humanity to mourn. 

Published in The Crisis, August 1916

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