The Messenger

By George Sterling

There soared an eagle in the West,
With mighty sunlight on his breast
    And music in his wings.
  Far-off, within the ravished East,
  He saw the vultures at their feast,
    Spread by the war of kings.

The very world was black and red
With furrows of the mangled dead,
    On whom the red dust lay.
  From all the lands a wailing came;
A million homesteads passed in flame;
    The vultures tore their prey.

He gazed, and hesitant awhile,
Beheld the carrion horde defile
    The wounded and the slain.
  The feast grew fouler with the years;
  The very heavens were gray with tears
    Above that realm of pain ***

Now, doubt and hesitation past,
The destined war-road rings at last
    With onset of his young.
  Lo! the swift eaglets follow him
  To where all Europe's skies are dim
    With cannon breath upflung.

Freeborn, oh soar in boundless light
Above, the world's despotic night
    Till the new dawn advance!
  Cry to the foul and feasting horde
  Our thunders follow and our sword,
    In Love's deliverance!
Eternal spirit of our Land,
By whom the guarded seas are spanned,
    Grant to the coming years
  The liberty our fathers sought—
  The liberty by man unbought
    Except by blood and tears!

The San Francisco Chronicle, CXIII, 170 (4 July, 1918) 1.

Also included in:
Mighels, Ella Sterling ed. Literary California: Poetry, Prose, and Portraits. San Francisco: Harr Wagner Publishing Co, 1918.

Bibliography Entry