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Civilization: 1914

From The Sun, September 6, 1914. By E. Elwell.

For the glory of the living weep the millions of the dead;
For the happiness of hearts that beat, their broken hearts have bled.
So the pæan of the ages shrills a tragedy of praise
To the multitudes of martyrs, and the sighing, grief swept days
That reach piled high to heaven from the mysteries of the past;
And the first dread soul in torment cries in anguish to the last:

“We are the human hatreds, the ambitions and the greed,
The lies that make men monsters, the death thought and the deed;
We are the lusts primeval, we are the sin and shame
That have chilled the fire of charity and snuffed the Christ-lit flame.
We are the deep foundation of the civilized advance;
We make fact the dreams of horror that the drug ambition grants;
We have stripped off flowing vestments; we have dropped the cap of state;
We writhe naked in the frankness of uncovered human hate—
A hate for others’ happiness that checks the march of power.
We have made the modern nation, and our curse is all its dower.”

But the glory of the living may not halt to hark the dead;
The heart that goes in gladness shall not cease for one that’s bled.
Though the ages in their sequence e’er will sing a pæan of praise
To the martyrs by men murdered for the love of fortune’s ways,
And though prayers go up to heaven from the as yet unborn past,
The world is ever building a new ruin on the last.

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