"Strengthened to live, strengthened to die for medals and positioned victories? They're fighting, fighting the blind man who thinks he sees,— who cannot see that the enslaver is enslaved; the hater, harmed. O shining O firm star, O tumultuous ocean lashed till small things go as they will, the mountainous wave makes us who look, know depth. Lost at sea before they fought! O star of David, star of Bethlehem, O black imperial lion of the Lord-emblem of a risen world—be joined at last, be joined. There is hate's crown beneath which all is death; there's love's without which none is king; the blessed deeds bless the halo. As contagion of sickness makes sickness, contagion of trust can make trust. They're fighting in deserts and caves, one by one, in battalions and squadrons; they're fighting that I may yet recover from the disease, My Self; some have it lightly; some will die. 'Man's wolf to man' and we devour ourselves. The enemy could not have made a greater breach in our defenses. One pilot- ing a blind man can escape him, but Job disenheartened by false comfort knew that nothing can be so defeating as a blind man who can see. O alive who are dead, who are proud not to see, O small dust of the earth that walks so arrogantly, trust begets power and faith is an affectionate thing. We vow, we make this promise to the fighting—it's a promise—'We'll never hate black, white, red, yellow, Jew, Gentile, Untouchable.' We are not competent to make our vows. With set jaw they are fighting, fighting, fighting,—some we love whom we know, some we love but know not—that hearts may feel and not be numb. It cures me; or I am what I can't believe in? Some in snow, some on crags, some in quicksands, little by little, much by much, they are fighting fighting that where there was death there may be life. 'When a man is prey to anger, he is moved by outside things; when he holds his ground in patience patience patience, that is action or beauty,' the soldier's defense and hardest armor for the fight. The world's an orphans' home. Shall we never have peace without sorrow? without pleas of the dying for help that won't come? O quiet form upon the dust, I cannot look and yet I must. If these great patient dyings-all these agonies and wound bearings and bloodshed— can teach us how to live, these dyings were not wasted. Hate-hardened heart, O heart of iron iron is iron till it is rust. There never was a war that was not inward; I must fight till I have conquered in myself what causes war, but I would not believe it. I inwardly did nothing. O Iscariot-like crime! Beauty is everlasting and dust is for a time. - "In Distrust of Merits" by Marianne Moore. Copyrighted 1944.
Last Modified: 13 October 2006 EST