Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.

The Wine Press

Noyes, Alfred

Alfred Noyes

(English poet, born 1880)

A MURDERED man, ten miles away,

Will hardly shake your peace,

Like one red stain upon your hand;

And a tortured child in a distant land

Will never check one smile to-day,

Or bid one fiddle cease.

The News

It comes along a little wire,

Sunk in a deep sea;

It thins in the clubs to a little smoke

Between one joke and another joke,

For a city in flames is less than the fire

That comforts you and me.

The Diplomats

Each was honest after his way,

Lukewarm in faith, and old;

And blood, to them, was only a word,

And the point of a phrase their only sword,

And the cost of war, they reckoned it

In little disks of gold.

They were cleanly groomed. They were not to be bought.

And their cigars were good.

But they had pulled so many strings

In the tinselled puppet-show of kings

That, when they talked of war, they thought

Of sawdust, not of blood;

Not of the crimson tempest

Where the shattered city falls:

They thought, behind their varnished doors,

Of diplomats, ambassadors,

Budgets, and loans and boundary-lines,

Coercions and re-calls.

The Charge

Slaughter! Slaughter! Slaughter!

The cold machines whirred on.

And strange things crawled amongst the wheat

With entrails dragging round their feet,

And over the foul red shambles

A fearful sunlight shone.…

The maxims cracked like cattle-whips

Above the struggling hordes.

They rolled and plunged and writhed like snakes

In the trampled wheat and the blackthorn brakes,

And the lightnings leapt among them

Like clashing crimson swords.

The rifles flogged their wallowing herds,

Flogged them down to die.

Down on their slain the slayers lay,

And the shrapnel thrashed them into the clay,

And tossed their limbs like tattered birds

Thro’ a red volcanic sky.