Alfred Noyes

(16 September 1880 – 25 June 1958 / Wolverhamton)

Princeton, May, 1917


Here Freedom stood by slaughtered friend and foe,
And, ere the wrath paled or that sunset died,
Looked through the ages; then, with eyes aglow,
Laid them to wait that future, side by side.


(Lines for a monument to the American and British soldiers of the Revolutionary War who fell on the Princeton battlefield and were buried in one grave.)

Now lamp-lit gardens in the blue dusk shine
Through dogwood, red and white;
And round the gray quadrangles, line by line,
The windows fill with light,
Where Princeton calls to Magdalen, tower to tower,
Twin lanthorns of the law;
And those cream-white magnolia boughs embower
The halls of "Old Nassau."

The dark bronze tigers crouch on either side
Where redcoats used to pass;
And round the bird-loved house where Mercer died,
And violets dusk the grass,
By Stony Brook that ran so red of old,
But sings of friendship now,
To feed the old enemy's harvest fifty-fold
The green earth takes the plow.

Through this May night, if one great ghost should stray
With deep remembering eyes,
Where that old meadow of battle smiles away
Its blood-stained memories,
If Washington should walk, where friend and foe
Sleep and forget the past,
Be sure his unquenched heart would leap to know
Their souls are linked at last.

Be sure he walks, in shadowy buff and blue,
Where those dim lilacs wave.
He bends his head to bless, as dreams come true,
The promise of that grave;
Then, with a vaster hope than thought can scan,
Touching his ancient sword,
Prays for that mightier realm of God in man:
"Hasten thy kingdom, Lord.

"Land of our hope, land of the singing stars,
Type of the world to be,
The vision of a world set free from wars
Takes life, takes form from thee;
Where all the jarring nations of this earth,
Beneath the all-blessing sun,
Bring the new music of mankind to birth,
And make the whole world one."

And those old comrades rise around him there,
Old foemen, side by side,
With eyes like stars upon the brave night air,
And young as when they died,
To hear your bells, O beautiful Princeton towers,
Ring for the world's release.
They see you piercing like gray swords through flowers,
And smile, from souls at peace.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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