John Greenleaf Whittier: Nobler than the sword’s shall be the sickle’s accolade
John Greenleaf Whittier
The Peace Autumn (1865)
Thank God for rest, where none molest,
And none can make afraid;
For Peace that sits as Plenty’s guest
Beneath the homestead shade!
Bring pike and gun, the sword’s red scourge,
The negro’s broken chains,
And beat them at the blacksmith’s forge
To ploughshares for our plains.
Alike henceforth our hills of snow,
And vales where cotton flowers;
All streams that flow, all winds that blow,
Are Freedom’s motive-powers.
Henceforth to Labor’s chivalry
Be knightly honors paid;
For nobler than the sword’s shall be
The sickle’s accolade.
Build up an altar to the Lord,
O grateful hearts of ours!
And shape it of the greenest sward
That ever drank the showers.
Lay all the bloom of gardens there,
And there the orchard fruits;
Bring golden grain from sun and air,
From earth her goodly roots.
There let our banners droop and flow,
The stars uprise and fall;
Our roll of martyrs, sad and slow,
Let sighing breezes call.
Their names let hands of horn and tan
And rough-shod feet applaud,
Who died to make the slave a man,
And link with toil reward.
There let the common heart keep time
To such an anthem sung
As never swelled on poet’s rhyme,
Or thrilled on singer’s tongue.
Song of our burden and relief,
Of peace and long annoy;
The passion of our mighty grief
And our exceeding joy!
A song of praise to Him who filled
The harvests sown in years,
And gave each field a double yield
To feed our battle-years!
A song of faith that trusts the end
To match the good begun,
Nor doubts the power of Love to blend
The hearts of men as one!