I am the refuge of all the oppressed,
I am the boast of the free,
I am the harbor where ships may rest
Safely 'twixt sea and sea.
I hold up a torch to a darkened world,
I lighten the path with its ray.
Let my hand keep steady
And let me be ready
For whatever comes my way--
Let me be ready.
Oh, better than fortresses, better than guns,
Better than lance or spear,
Are the loyal hearts of my daughters and sons,
Faithful and without fear.
But my daughters and sons must understand
That Attila did not die.
And they must be ready,
Their hands must be steady,
If the hosts of hell come nigh--
They must be ready.
If Jesus were back on the earth with men,
He would not preach today
Until He had made him a scourge, and again
He would drive the defilers away.
He would throw down the tables of lust and greed
And scatter the changers' gold.
He would be ready,
His hand would be steady,
As it was in that temple of old--
He would be ready.
I am the cradle of God's new world,
From me shall the new race rise,
And my glorious banner must float unfurled,
Unsullied against the skies.
My sons and daughters must be my strength,
With courage to do and to dare.
With hearts that are ready,
With hands that are steady,
And their slogan must be, Prepare!
They must be ready!
With a prayer on the lip they
must shoulder arms.
For after all has been said,
We must muster guns,
If we master Huns--
And Attila is not dead--
We must be ready!
World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.
|Back to Poem Index|