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The Arsenal at Springfield

Written by: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Biography
 | Quotes (130) |
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.