Ballad of the Bells

By George Sterling

'Twas Christmas eve upon the world;
  On Broadway 'twas the heart of night;
But there a myriad babbling folk
  Walked between blazing cliffs of light.

Most thickly there the people pressed,
  As men all day had thronged before,
Where the black bulletins proclaimed
  The griefs and terrors of the war.

And there the strife of hate and steel
  Was fought again with tongues and hate,
As, hostile-eyed and savage-lipped,
  The crowd prolonged the fierce debate.

Hot scorn or cold, the scowl or sneer,
  The jeer, the jest, the venomed word,
They seemed far trace and echoing
  Of wraths that Europe saw and heard.

And group by group embittered men
  Of many lands and alien creeds
Vaunted their armies and their ships,
  Their captains and their bloody deeds.

Then, far and high and icy clear,
  The voice of bells from darkness came,
And each man checked his speech, and all
  Gazed each on each in sudden shame.

They were the bells of Christmas eve
  That bade the bitter wrangling cease,
And in all hearts there stood, reborn,
  The vision of the Prince of Peace—

He who shall rule the nations yet,
  Eternal and compassionate,
In years when forts and fleets are not,
  Nor warring kings, nor swords of hate!

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