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F. Benjamin Gage: The Sword and the Plough

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

American writers on peace and against war

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F. Benjamin Gage
The Sword and the Plough

Far back in time’s departed years,
Ere earth was drenched in blood and tears,
Two brothers from the father’s hearth,
Went forth to toil upon the earth;
Each with stout heart and hardy frame,
And each in search of wealth and fame:
One was the Sword with haughty brow,
The other was the humble Plough.
The Sword, the fairest of the twain,
Was reckless, cruel, dark and vain;
A daring and ambitious youth,
The foe of virtue, peace and truth.
Forth from his father’s hearth he sprang,
While far and wide his praises rang;
Yet mercy shuddered as he came,
And fled, affrighted, at his name!
Men shrank in terror from his wrath,
While cities blazed along his path!
Kingdoms into the dust he hurled,
And bound in chains a wondering world.
In every land, in every clime,
He wreathed his brow with blood and crime,
Yet still the blood-devouring Sword
Was praised, exulted and adored.
As bold, the humble Plough went forth,
But not to desolate the earth –
To counteract God’s wondrous plan,
And swell the endless woes of man;
But with the heart and hand of toil
To break the deep and fruitful soil –
To scatter wealth on every hand
And beautify and bless the land!
He made the nations thrive in peace,
And swelled their stores with rich increase;
Bound the torn heart of want and woe,
And made the land with plenty flow;
And scattered, wheresoe’er he trod,
The golden harvest-gifts of God!
Yet even then, and until now
Men have despised the humble Plough!
Thus bow the nations to adore
The wretch who stains their hearths with gore,
And thus despise the humble mind
That toils to bless the human kind;
Yet it shall not be so for “aye,”
For lo! there comes a brighter day,
When, through the darkness of the past,
The sun of Truth shall gleam at last.
Then shall the carnage-loving Sword,
So long exalted and adored,
Sink in forgetfulness and shame
Till men shall cease to know his name;
Then shall the Plough, despised so long,
Be theme for universal song:
The first of all in Honor’s van,
The noblest of the friends of man!

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