THROUGH his might men work their wills.
They have boweled out the hills
For food to keep him toiling in the cages they have wrought:
And they fling him, hour by hour,
Limbs of men to give him power ;
Brains of men to give him cunning ; and for dainties to devour,
Children’s souls, the little worth ; hearts of women, cheaply bought.
He takes them and he breaks them, but he gives them scanty thought.
For, about the noisy land,
Roaring, quivering ’neath his hand,
His thoughts brood fierce and sullen or laugh in lust of pride
O’er the stubborn things that he
Breaks to dust and brings to be :
Some he mightily establishes, some flings down utterly;
There is thunder in his stride, nothing ancient can abide,
When he hales the hills together and bridles up the tide.
Quietude and loveliness,
Holy sights that heal and bless,
They are scattered and abolished where his iron hoof is set;
When he splashes through the brae,
Silver streams are choked with clay,
When he snorts, the bright cliffs crumble and the woods go down like hay ;
He lairs in pleasant cities, and the haggard people fret
Squalid ’mid their new-got riches, soot-begrimed and desolate.
They who caught and bound him tight
Laughed exultant at his might,
Saying: “Now behold the good time comes, for the weariest and the least!
We will use this lusty knave ;
No more need for men to slave;
We may rise and look about us and have knowledge, ere the grave.”
But the Brute said in his breast: “ Till the mills I grind have ceased,
The riches shall be dust of dust, dry ashes be the feast!
“ On the strong and cunning few
Cynic favors I will strew ;
I will stuff their maw with overplus until their spirit dies :
From the patient and the low
I will talce the joys they know;
They shall hunger after vanities and still anhungered go.
Madness shall be on the people, ghastly jealousies arise;
Brother’s blood shall cry on brother up the dead and empty skies.
“ I will burn and dig and hack
Till the heavens suffer lack ;
God shall feel a pleasure fail Him, crying to his cherubim,
‘ Who hath flung yon mudball there
Where my world went green and fair ? ’
I shall laugh and hug me, hearing how his sentinels declare:
' ’Tis the Brute they chained to labor! He has made the bright earth dim.
Store of wares and pelf a plenty, but they got no good of him.’ ”
So he plotted in his rage;
So he deals it, age by age.
But even as he roared his curse a still small Voice befell;
Lo, a still and pleasant voice
Bade them none the less rejoice,
For the Brute must bring the good time on ; he has no other choice.
He may struggle, sweat, and yell, but he knows exceeding well
He must work them out salvation ere they send him back to hell.
All the desert that he made
He must treble bless with shade,
In primal wastes set precious seed of rapture and of pain ;
All the strongholds that he built
For the powers of greed and guilt,
He must strew their bastions down the sea and choke their towers with silt;
He must make the temples clean for the gods to come again,
And lift the lordly cities under skies without a stain.
In a very cunning tether
He must lead the tyrant weather ;
He must loose the curse of Adam from the worn neck of the race;
He must cast out hate and fear,
Dry away each fruitless tear
And make the fruitful tears to gush from the deep heart and clear.
He must give each man his portion, each his pride and worthy place;
He must batter down the arrogant and lift the weary face;
On each vile mouth set purity, on each low forehead grace.
Then, perhaps, at the last day,
They will whistle him away,
Lay a hand upon his muzzle in the face of God, and say:
“ Honor, Lord, the Thing we tamed!
Let him not be scourged or blamed.
Even through his wrath and fierceness was thy fierce wroth world reclaimed!
Honor Thou thy servant’s servant; let thy justice now be shown.”
Then the Lord will heed their saying, and the Brute come to his own,
’Twixt the Lion and the Eagle, by the arm-post of the throne.
William Vaughn Moody.