Not in My Country


NOT in my country: in the Sunday sun:
The hollowing bells still burning in the air:
Does fear plunge like a hawk, and split the wonder
Down till death is there.
Over the stony fields, in my country,
The shadow of wings is water rinsed from stone;
Like water running; and there is no terror
Or death — such things are known
But not in my city: here the sunlight falls
Quiet upon the streets in the quiet noon,
And shadow lies lost in an ancient thralldom,
Still as the daylight moon.
In the bright town there are bells, and women calling.
They have forgotten that day began with mist.
Men meet, and talk. And there is no mirror
For hate — hatreds exist
But not in my land: they are unremembered lore,
The fabulous nations crushed against the clay —
Paris still unabsolved for Helen’s glory,
And Troy in ashes, blowing down the bay.
Out in the stony fields, in my country,
Men have forgotten Troy. They sow, and reap;
And at night they sleep, mindless of ancient sorrow.
And the dead sleep.


But from earth, in the evening rain, in my land,
Rise ominous words that contradict the dream
“—The things that are not fought for will not stand;
Peace is the seeming:
Peace is the saying, in unremitting rain,
‘The sun will follow; and sorrow follows laughter.
We too, even we, alter. But what we planned —
The freedom and the dignity of man —
Cannot fall,
Not in my country.’ ”
And into the cold streets of my fading city
There sift, resistless as rain, the voices of an old
Multitude: not of heroes:
“Not whom you pity
Are we, nor whom you know.
Forget us, we are ashes, we are dispersed —
(We are cursed; think of us. We could not hate
Weak, lovely Helen, nor the revengeful men, —
Till something woke us. It was too late then;
We entered the blowing ashes Of our own city.)”
And in my country, in the dark, closing rain,
The rising voices chorus, and drown the prayers.
“The dead sleep who do not know their slayers,
Nor know that they were slain.
Peace is the dream; and peace is the end of dreaming.
Perilous Helen laps the heedless dead.
(‘Ah, who, seeing her beauty, would not be Led like the sifting ashes undersea,
And no more said. . . .’) ”
Shall there be no more said,
In my land?


Here lie, my country, in the returning sun,
The heavy bells again fumbling with air,
And fear on the front page, by the stale funnies
Under the rocking chair.
Across the waking fields, in my country,
The shadow of wings passes, and is gone,
Running like water — running, perhaps in error,
Over the lawn:
Yet lie here, my city, where sunlight falls
Quiet — yet there is quiet, will you stay
While history bleeds in the breathing hallways,
And night things climb the day?
In the bright town there are bells; men start calling;
And the black shadows gather, and persist. —
Oh at last listen: hate was never nearer,
My people! Hatreds exist,
Old as our land; and is this no man’s guilt?
The swords stand yet in the wounds they made.
Let us no more forget those ages spilt
And no one paid;
Let us earn our sons the not-despaired-of country
Where what they have not sowed they need not reap,
And where at night the world will go on building
For the short hours they sleep.