A Fragment [poem by Menie Parkes]

[Editor: This poem by Menie Parkes was published in Poems (1867).]

A Fragment.

Two natures in my being strive for power,
And I lie passive as the battle-field
Beneath the tread of armies. Fair,
Decked in the wealth of God’s great gifts,
The earth smiles up to God’s blue heavens,
Its beauty for its praise; this, till man,
Gregarious unto murder, sells his soul to hell
For less than Judas sold the Truth, and runs, headlong,
In haste to consummate the bargain. Armies meet,
And earth, shorn of her peaceful glory, bears
The weight of war and curse of human blood.
And yet she bears in silence, shudders not
In any sudden quake to fright the fools,
That brawl their souls right through the gate
Of the audience room of God. She does not shrink,
And call upon the sea to wash away
The red disgrace of blood. She does not wail,
Nor call upon her winds and thunders for a shout
Of indignation. She is calm; like some poor mother
With the smile, with which she turns to greet
Her coming child, stamped ice-cold on her lips
By sight of that child’s corse. So my life.
I am so calm, so calm, that none could dream
The strife of armies in my bosom. Evil
With giant powers and myriad ruses takes the field,
And tramples all before him. All his black-clad knights,
Each with closed visor, and stern clang of arm,
Go striding through my heart, and desolations
Creep in their track. And yet I wail not,
Because the heavens are bright and the sun shines,
And nature’s God — Omnipotence — and mine, yet lives,
Or nature’s light were flown. Said I not so?
The white-robed army comes, and the pure banner-love
And swelling trump of triumph tell
It comes to conquer. Yet I bear the pains,
The racking pains of conflict. I am torn
By all the stretch and strain of battle. The blows
Of Evil and the strokes aimed by the Good,
Alike cut through my soul.

Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, [1867], pages 103-104

Editor’s notes:
corse = (archaic) corpse

[Editor: Corrected “To my life” to “So my life”, and “Yet I hear” to “Yet I bear”, with regard to the “Errata” corrections.]

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