Betrayal

By George Sterling

                                    I

Strange, that the race relinquish to the hands,
    Mailed and relentless, of the haughty few
    Its destinies! The pomps Assyria knew
Moan to the twilight of the bitter sands
With lips of stone, and in the desert stands
    No record of the millions that she slew.
    There gleams no throne in Time's august review
But sent a sword upon the patient lands.

On Europe now, as once on Babylon,
The vulture bands go forth beneath the sun,
    And ravens hover at the flanks of war
        With clamor echoless and desolate,
        As tho each bird cried hoarsely to its mate,
"The kings are at their bloody work once more!"

                                    II

Why will ye suffer it, and give to kings
    The reins of government, O brothers blind?
    Upon their roads of empire ye shall find
Despair and agony and shattered things.
Their suns conspire; the throne's deep shadow swings
    Its midnight on the race's heart and mind;
    Your homes they open to the rain and wind,
Your portals to the bat's familiar wings.

Their feet take hold on Hell, and on their path
    Lie Beauty violate and Love profaned;
        Their armies trample and their chariots ride
On harvests and the hearth-stone, and your wrath
    Wakes not, nor hath your purblind strength arraigned
        Their idiot "honor" and insensate pride!

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