“Thus Saith The Lord, I Offer Thee Three Things.” by Oliver Wendell Holmes

IN poisonous dens, where traitors hide
Like bats that fear the day,
While all the land our charters claim
Is sweating blood and breathing flame,
Dead to their country’s woe and shame,
The recreants whisper STAY!

In peaceful homes, where patriot fires
On Love’s own altars glow,
The mother hides her trembling fear,
The wife, the sister, checks a tear,
To breathe the parting word of cheer,
Soldier of Freedom, Go!

In halls where Luxury lies at ease,
And Mammon keeps his state,
Where flatterers fawn and menials crouch,
The dreamer, startled from his couch,
Wrings a few counters from his pouch,
And murmurs faintly WAIT!

In weary camps, on trampled plains
That ring with fife and drum,
The battling host, whose harness gleams
Along the crimson-flowing streams,
Calls, like a warning voice in dreams,
We want you, Brother! COME!

Choose ye whose bidding ye will do,–
To go, to wait, to stay!
Sons of the Freedom-loving town,
Heirs of the Fathers’ old renown,
The servile yoke, the civic crown,
Await your choice To-DAY!

The stake is laid! O gallant youth
With yet unsilvered brow,
If Heaven should lose and Hell should win,
On whom shall lie the mortal sin,
That cries aloud, It might have been?
God calls you–answer NOW.

1862.

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