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The Poor Little Guy

From The Sun, August 24, 1914. By William Samuel Johnson.

While the legions are locked on the dead line,
    While the dreadnoughts are glooming the seas,
While horrors and rumor of headline
    Give a tang to an evening of ease,
Let us kneel in the dust of all faction
    Let us pray to the Peace from on high
For a small, unspectacular fraction—
    The poor little guy!

In the fangs of the tangling wire
    He slips in the slime of the dead;
He blinks at the spume of the fire
    And the scream of the stream of the lead;
And yet—he knew nought of the plotting,
    And nought can he profit thereby;
But his is the dying—and rotting—
    The poor little guy!

Let us pray for his kine in the stable
    For his ox and his ass and his swine
For his chair and his plate on the table
    For his cornfield and orchard and vine
For the tilth where the women are plying
    For the bed where he never shall lie
For the ache that is worse than the dying—
    The poor little guy!

A pitiful pawn of Vienna,
    Of Kaiser, of King, or of Czar,
He is pushed to the pit of Gehenna
    To the slide of the Great Abattoir.
He goes as the wailing denial
    As the infinite, travailing cry
Of the Peace to be born from his trial—
    The poor little guy!

The Peace of the pure consummation
    Foretold in the ages before
When nation shall strive not with nation
    Nor shall they learn war any more.
But, Jesus!—the carrion faces
    That glare at the pestilent sky
And the trench at the foot of the glacis—
    The poor little guy!

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