Home > Uncategorized > Christina Rossetti: They reap a red crop from the field. O Man, put up thy sword.

Christina Rossetti: They reap a red crop from the field. O Man, put up thy sword.


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war


Christina Rossetti
“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.

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