The German-French Campaign 1870-1871 by Christina Rossetti
These two pieces, written during the suspense of a great nation’s agony, aim at expressing human sympathy, not political bias.
“THY BROTHER’S BLOOD CRIETH.”
All her corn-fields rippled in the sunshine,
All her lovely vines, sweets-laden, bowed;
Yet some weeks to harvest and to vintage:
When, as one man’s hand, a cloud
Rose and spread, and, blackening, burst asunder
In rain and fire and thunder.
Is there nought to reap in the day of harvest?
Hath the vine in her day no fruit to yield?
Yea, men tread the press, but not for sweetness,
And they reap a red crop from the field.
Build barns, ye reapers, garner all aright,
Though your souls be called to-night.
A cry of tears goes up from blackened homesteads,
A cry of blood goes up from reeking earth:
Tears and blood have a cry that pierces Heaven
Through all its Hallelujah swells of mirth;
God hears their cry, and though He tarry, yet
He doth not forget.
Mournful Mother, prone in dust weeping,
Who shall comfort thee for those who are not?
As thou didst, men do to thee; and heap the measure,
And heat the furnace sevenfold hot:
As thou once, now these to thee–who pitieth thee
From sea to sea?
O thou King, terrible in strength, and building
Thy strong future on thy past!
Though he drink the last, the King of Sheshach,
Yet he shall drink at the last.
Art thou greater than great Babylon,
Which lies overthrown?
Take heed, ye unwise among the people;
O ye fools, when will ye understand?–
He that planted the ear shall He not hear,
Nor He smite who formed the hand?
“Vengeance is Mine, is Mine,” thus saith the Lord:–
O Man, put up thy sword.
“TO-DAY FOR ME.”
She sitteth still who used to dance,
She weepeth sore and more and more–
Let us sit with thee weeping sore,
O fair France!
She trembleth as the days advance
Who used to be so light of heart:–
We in thy trembling bear a part,
Her eyes shine tearful as they glance:
“Who shall give back my slaughtered sons?
“Bind up,” she saith, “my wounded ones.”–
She struggles in a deathly trance,
As in a dream her pulses stir,
She hears the nations calling her,
“France, France, France!”
Thou people of the lifted lance,
Forbear her tears, forbear her blood:
Roll back, roll back, thy whelming flood,
Back from France.
Eye not her loveliness askance,
Forge not for her a galling chain;
Leave her at peace to bloom again,
A time there is for change and chance,
A time for passing of the cup:
And One abides can yet bind up
A time there is for change and chance:
Who next shall drink the trembling cup,
Wring out its dregs and suck them up