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Henry van Dyke: Stain Not the Sky


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

American writers on peace and against war

John Galsworthy, 1911: Air war last and worst hideous development of the black arts of warfare


Henry van Dyke
Stain Not the Sky
March 5, 1914

Ye gods of battle, lords of fear,
Who work your iron will as well
As once ye did with sword and spear,
With rifled gun and rending shell,—
Masters of sea and land, forbear
The fierce invasion of the inviolate air!

With patient daring man hath wrought
A hundred years for power to fly;
And will you make his winged thought
A hovering horror in the sky,
Where flocks of human eagles sail,
Dropping their bolts of death on hill and dale?

Ah no, the sunset is too pure,
The dawn too fair, the noon too bright
For wings of terror to obscure
Their beauty, and betray the night
That keeps for man, above his wars,
The tranquil vision of untroubled stars.

Pass on, pass on, ye lords of fear!
Your footsteps in the sea are red,
And black on earth your paths appear
With ruined homes and heaps of dead.
Pass on to end your transient reign,
And leave the blue of heaven without a stain.

The wrong ye wrought will fall to dust,
The right ye shielded will abide;
The world at last will learn to trust
In law to guard, and love to guide;
And Peace of God that answers prayer
Will fall like dew from the inviolate air.

Peace-Hymn of the Republic

O Lord our God, Thy mighty hand
Hath made our country free;
From all her broad and happy land
May praise arise to Thee.
Fulfill the promise of her youth,
Her liberty defend;
By law and order, love and truth,
America befriend!

The strength of every State increase
In Union’s golden chain;
Her thousand cities fill with peace,
Her million fields with grain.
The virtues of her mingled blood
In one new people blend;
By unity and brotherhood,
America befriend!

O suffer not her feet to stray;
But guide her untaught might,
That she may walk in peaceful day,
And lead the world in light.
Bring down the proud, lift up the poor,
Unequal ways amend;
By justice, nation-wide and sure,
America befriend!

Thro’ all the waiting land proclaim
Thy gospel of good-will;
And may the music of Thy name
In every bosom thrill.
O’er hill and vale, from sea to sea.
Thy holy reign extend;
By faith and hope and charity,
America befriend!

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