June, 1914 In the pleasant time of Pentecost, By the little river Kyll, I followed the angler’s winding path Or waded the stream at will, And the friendly fertile German land Lay round me green and still. But all day long on the eastern bank Of the river cool and clear, Where the curving track of the double rails Was hardly seen though near, The endless trains of German troops Went rolling down to Trier. They packed the windows with bullet heads And caps of hodden gray; They laughed and sang and shouted loud When the trains were brought to a stay; They waved their hands and sang again As they went on their iron way. No shadows fell on the smiling land, No cloud arose in the sky; I could hear the river’s quiet tune When the trains had rattled by; But my heart sank low with a heavy sense Of trouble,—I knew not why. Then came I into a certain field Where the devil’s paint-brush spread ’Mid the gray and green of the rolling hills A flaring splotch of red,— An evil omen, a bloody sign, And a token of many dead. I saw in a vision the field-gray horde Break forth at the devil’s hour, And trample the earth into crimson mud In the rage of the Will to Power,— All this I dreamed in the valley of Kyll, At the sign of the blood-red flower.
You dare to say with perjured lips,
"We fight to make the ocean free"?
You, whose black trail of butchered ships
Bestrews the bed of every sea
Where German submarines have wrought
Their horrors! Have you never thought,—
What you call freedom, men call piracy!
Unnumbered ghosts that haunt the wave
Where you have murdered, cry you down;
And seamen whom you would not save,
Weave now in weed-grown depths a crown
Of shame for your imperious head,—
A dark memorial of the dead,—
Women and children whom you left to drown
Nay, not till thieves are set to guard
The gold, and corsairs called to keep
O'er peaceful commerce watch and ward,
And wolves to herd the helpless sheep,
Shall men and women look to thee—
Thou ruthless Old Man of the Sea—
To safeguard law and freedom on the deep!
In nobler breeds we put our trust:
The nations in whose sacred lore
The "Ought" stands out above the "Must,"
And Honor rules in peace and war.
With these we hold in soul and heart,
With these we choose our lot and part,
Till Liberty is safe on sea and shore.