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

The Arsenal at Springfield

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Probably the most popular of American poets, 1807–1882)

THIS is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,

Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;

But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing

Startles the villages with strange alarms.

Ah! what a sound will rise—how wild and dreary—

When the death-angel touches those swift keys!

What loud lament and dismal Miserere

Will mingle with their awful symphonies!

I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus—

The cries of agony, the endless groan,

Which, through the ages that have gone before us,

In long reverberations reach our own.…

Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,

With such accursed instruments as these,

Thou drownest Nature’s sweet and kindly voices,

And jarrest the celestial harmonies?

Were half the power that fills the world with terror,

Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,

Given to redeem the human mind from error,

There were no need of arsenals or forts.