Do Not Cheer, Men are Dying

- 1825-1911
 "Do not cheer, for men are dying," said Capt. Phillips in the Spanish-American War
Do not cheer, for men are dying
   From their distant homes in pain;
And the restless sea is darkened
   By a flood of crimson rain.
Do not cheer, for anxious mothers
   Wait and watch in lonely dread;
Vainly waiting for the footsteps
   Never more their paths to tread.
Do not cheer, while little children
   Gather round the widowed wife,
Wondering why an unknown people
   Sought their own dear father's life.
Do not cheer, for aged fathers
   Bend above their staves and weep,
While the ocean sings the requiem
   Where their fallen children sleep.
Do not cheer, for lips are paling
   On which lay the mother's kiss;
'Mid the dreadful roar of battle
   How that mother's hand they miss!
Do not cheer: once joyous maidens,
   Who the mazy dance did tread,
Bow their heads in bitter anguish,
   Mourning o'er their cherished dead.
Do not cheer while maid and matron
   In this strife must bear a part;
While the blow that strikes a soldier
   Reaches to some woman's heart.
Do not cheer till arbitration
   O'er the nations holds its sway,
And the century now closing
   Ushers in a brighter day.
Do not cheer until the nation
   Shall more wise and thoughtful grow
Than to staunch a stream of sorrow
   By an avalanche of woe.
Do not cheer until each nation
   Sheathes the sword and blunts the spear,
And we sing aloud for gladness:
   Lo, the reign of Christ is here,
And the banners of destruction
   From the battlefield are furled,
And the peace of God descending
   Rests upon a restless world.


More by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Bible Defence of Slavery

Take sackcloth of the darkest dye,
   And shroud the pulpits round!
Servants of Him that cannot lie,
   Sit mourning on the ground.

Let holy horror blanch each cheek,
   Pale every brow with fears;
And rocks and stones, if ye could speak,
   Ye well might melt to tears!

Let sorrow breathe in every tone,
   In every strain ye raise;
Insult not God's majestic throne
   With th' mockery of praise.

A "reverend" man, whose light should be
   The guide of age and youth,
Brings to the shrine of Slavery
   The sacrifice of truth!

For the direst wrong by man imposed,
   Since Sodom's fearful cry,
The word of life has been unclos'd,
   To give your God the lie.

Oh! when ye pray for heathen lands,
   And plead for their dark shores,
Remember Slavery's cruel hands
   Make heathens at your doors!

Learning to Read

Very soon the Yankee teachers 
    Came down and set up school; 
But, oh! how the Rebs did hate it,— 
    It was agin' their rule. 

Our masters always tried to hide 
    Book learning from our eyes; 
Knowledge didn't agree with slavery—
    'Twould make us all too wise. 

But some of us would try to steal 
    A little from the book, 
And put the words together, 
    And learn by hook or crook. 

I remember Uncle Caldwell, 
    Who took pot-liquor fat 
And greased the pages of his book, 
    And hid it in his hat. 

And had his master ever seen 
    The leaves up on his head, 
He'd have thought them greasy papers, 
    But nothing to be read. 

And there was Mr. Turner's Ben, 
    Who heard the children spell, 
And picked the words right up by heart, 
    And learned to read 'em well. 

Well, the Northern folks kept sending 
    The Yankee teachers down; 
And they stood right up and helped us, 
    Though Rebs did sneer and frown. 

And, I longed to read my Bible, 
    For precious words it said; 
But when I begun to learn it, 
    Folks just shook their heads, 

And said there is no use trying, 
    Oh! Chloe, you're too late; 
But as I was rising sixty, 
    I had no time to wait. 

So I got a pair of glasses, 
    And straight to work I went, 
And never stopped till I could read 
    The hymns and Testament. 

Then I got a little cabin—
    A place to call my own— 
And I felt as independent 
    As the queen upon her throne.

The Crocuses

They heard the South wind sighing
    A murmur of the rain;
And they knew that Earth was longing
    To see them all again.
While the snow-drops still were sleeping
    Beneath the silent sod;
They felt their new life pulsing
    Within the dark, cold clod.
Not a daffodil nor daisy
    Had dared to raise its head;
Not a fairhaired dandelion
    Peeped timid from its bed;
Though a tremor of the winter
    Did shivering through them run;
Yet they lifted up their foreheads
    To greet the vernal sun.
And the sunbeams gave them welcome,
    As did the morning air—
And scattered o’er their simple robes
    Rich tints of beauty rare.
Soon a host of lovely flowers
    From vales and woodland burst;
But in all that fair procession
    The crocuses were first.
First to weave for Earth a chaplet
    To crown her dear old head;
And to beauty the pathway
    Where winter still did tread.
And their loved and white haired mother
    Smiled sweetly ’neath the touch,
When she knew her faithful children
    Were loving her so much.