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Robert Williams Buchanan
1841 - 1901


O Warrior for the Right !

Though thy shirt of mail be white

As the snows upon the breast of The Adored,

Though the weapon thou mayst claim

Hath been temper'd in the flame

Of the fire upon the Altar of the Lord

Ere the coming of the night

Thy mail shall be less bright,

And the taint of sin may settle on the sword.

For the foemen thou must meet

Are the phantoms in the street,

And thine armour shall be foul'd in many a place,

And the shameful mire and mud

With a grosser stain than blood

Shall be scatter'd  'mid the fray upon thy face;

And the helpless thou dost aid

Shall shrink from thee, dismay'd,

Till thou comèst to the knowledge of things base.

Ah, mortal !    With a brow

Like the gleam of sunshine, thou

Mayst wander from the pathway in thy turn;

In the noontide of thy strength

Be stricken down at length,

And cry to God for aid, and live, and learn:

And when with many a stain

Thou arisest up again,

The lightning of thy look will be less stern.

Thou shalt see with humbler eye

The adulteress go by,

Nor shudder at the touch of her attire;

Thou shalt only look with grief

On the liar and the thief;

Thou shalt meet the very murtherer in the mire;

And to which wouldst thou accord,

O thou Warrior of the Lord !

The vengeance of the Sword and of the Fire?

Nay !    Batter'd in the fray,

Thou shalt quake in act to slay,

And remember thy transgression and be meek !

And the thief shall grasp thy hand,

And the liar blushing stand,

And the harlot if she list shall kiss thy cheek;

And the murtherer, unafraid,

Shall meet thee in the shade

And pray thee for the doom thou will not wreak.

Yet shalt thou help the frail

From the phantoms that assail, ---

Yea !    The strong man in his anger shall thou dare;

Thy voice shall be a song

Against Wickedness and Wrong,

But the wicked and the wronger thou wilt spare.

And while thou lead'st the van,

The ungrateful hand of man

Shall smite thee down and slay thee unaware.

With an agonizèd cry

Thou shalt shiver down, and die,

With stained shirt of mail and broken brand;

And the voice of men shall call ---

" He has fallen like us all,

Though the weapon of the Lord was in his hand: "

And thine epitaph shall be ---

" He was wretched even as we; "

And thy tomb may be unhonour'd in the land.

But the basest of the base

Shall bless thy pale dead face;

And the thief shall steal a bloody lock of hair;

And over thee asleep

The adulteress shall weep

Such tears as she can never shed elsewhere,

Shall bless the broken brand

In thy chill and nerveless hand,

Shalll kiss thy stained vesture, with a prayer.

Then, while in that chill place

Stand the basest of the base

Gather'd round thee in the silence of the dark,

A white Face shall look down

On the silence of the town

And see thee lying dead, with those to mark;

And a Voice shall fill the air ---

"Bear my Warrior lying there

To his sleep upon my Breast ! "  and they shall hark.

Lo !    Then those fallen things

Shall perceive a rush of wings

Growing nearer down the azure gulf untrod;

And around them in the night

There shall grow a wondrous light,

While they hide affrighted faces on the sod;

But ere again 'tis dark

They shall raise their eyes, and mark

White arms that waft the Warrior up to God.


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