Saturday, September 16, 2017


IF they tell you that we hold
     Right and wrong are much the same:
     That with equal share of blame
The defender of the fold
     And the ravening wolf we name—
               Don't believe it!

If they tell you that we think,
     When the robber comes by night
     And we see 'neath murderous Might
Innocence unfriended sink,
     We should be "too proud to fight"—
               Don't believe it!

If they tell you we are cold
     When strong men, and maids as brave,
     May not life from bondage save—
We who gave unstinted gold,
     And our heart's blood, for the slave!—
               Don't believe it!

If—O gallant souls and true!—
     If they tell you we judge well
     Ways of Heaven and ways of Hell:
That the honor dear to you
     Also in our souls doth dwell—
               Oh, believe it!

If they tell you our heart's cry:
     That, whate'er the danger near,
     One, one only loss we fear;
And are ready, too, to—die
     For the things that you hold dear—
               Oh, believe it!
"The American People to the Allies" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

The "too proud to fight" reference in the poem refers to the words of President Woodrow Wilson from a speech delivered on 10 May 1915 to 4,000 newly naturalized citizens in Convention Hall, Philadelphia. Mr. Wilson stated that "there is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight ... as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right." Mrs. Coates evidently disagreed with Mr. Wilson on that point.

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