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The Day

From the Evening Journal, January 18, 1915. By Henry Chappell.

(The author of this magnificent poem is a railway porter at Bath, England, and is known to his comrades as the “Bath Railway Poet.” A poem such as this lifts him to the rank of a national poet).

You boasted the Day, and you toasted the Day,
    And now the Day has come.
Blasphemer, braggart, and coward all,
Little you reck of the numbing ball,
The blasting shell, or the “white arm’s” fall,
    As they speed poor humans home.

You spied for the Day, you lied for the Day,
    And woke the Day’s red spleen.
Monster, who asked God’s aid divine,
Then strewed His seas with the ghastly mine;
Not all the waters of all the Rhine
    Can wash thy foul hands clean.

You dreamed for the Day, you schemed for the Day;
    Watch how the Day will go.
Slayer of age and youth and prime
(Defenceless slain for never a crime)
Thou art steeped in blood as a hog in slime,
    False friend and cowardly foe.

You have sown for the Day, you have grown for the Day;
    Yours is the harvest red.
Can you hear the groans and the awful cries?
Can you see the heap of slain that lies,
And sightless turned to the flame-split skies
    The glassy eyes of the dead?

You have wronged for the Day, you have longed for the Day
    That lit the awful flame.
’Tis nothing to you that hill and plain
Yield sheaves of dead men amid the grain;
That widows mourn for their loved ones slain,
    And mothers curse thy name.

But after the Day there’s a price to pay
    For the sleepers under the sod.
And Him you have mocked for many a day—
Listen, and hear what He has to say,
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”
    What can you say to God?

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