The Arsenal at Springfield
THIS is the Arsenal.
From floor to ceiling
Like a huge organ rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise how wild and dreary 5
When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus
The cries of agony the endless groan 10
Which through the ages that have gone before us
In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer
Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman's song
And loud amid the universal clamor 15
O'er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.
I hear the Florentine who from his palace
Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din
And Aztec priests upon their teocallis
Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent's skin; 20
The tumult of each sacked and burning village;
The shouts that every prayer for mercy drowns;
The soldiers' revels in the midst of pillage;
The wail of famine in beleaguered towns;
The bursting shell the gateway wrenched asunder 25
The rattling musketry the clashing blade;
And ever and anon in tones of thunder
The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it O man with such discordant noises
With such accursed instruments as these 30
Thou drownest Nature's sweet and kindly voices
And jarrest the celestial harmonies?
Were half the power that fills the world with terror
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts
Given to redeem the human mind from error 35
There were no need of arsenals or forts:
The warrior's name would be a name abhorr¨¨d!
And every nation that should lift again
Its hand against a brother on its forehead
Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain! 40
Down the dark future through long generations
The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;
And like a bell with solemn sweet vibrations
I hear once more the voice of Christ say Peace!
Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals 45
The blast of War's great organ shakes the skies!
But beautiful as songs of the immortals
The holy melodies of love arise.