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When Will It End?



Written during the Civil War in the United States.
O when will it end, this appalling strife,
With its reckless waste of human life,
Its riving of highest, holiest ties,
Its tears of anguish and harrowing sighs,
Its ruined homes from which hope has fled,
Its broken hearts and its countless dead?

In fair Virginia the new-made graves
Lie crowded thick as old ocean’s caves;
Whether sword or sickness dealt the blow,
What matters it?—They lie cold and low;
And Maryland’s heights are crimsoned o’er,
And its green vales stained, with human gore.

The stalwart man in the prime of life,
Sole stay of frail children and helpless wife;
The bright-eyed, ardent, and beardless boy,
Of some mother’s fond breast the pride and joy,
And the soldier-love, the idol rare
Of maiden and matron, gentle and fair.

The men of the North so dauntless and free,
The flower of the Southland chivalry,
The best and the bravest on either side,
Their citizen soldier, the nation’s pride,
Carelessly cast in each narrow, dank bed,
And fruitlessly numbered among the dead.

Are you nearer the end than when Sumter’s gun
Answered the summons of Charleston,
And the nation plunged in this deadly strife,
That has wrecked its happiness, wealth and life,—
Say what is your answer to foe or friend?
“’Tis a strife of which none can guess the end.”

Oh! keep your young strength for some stranger foe,
Let not brother’s rash hand lay brother low;
Remember one soil your childhood nursed,
In the past together your bonds you burst;
Together for freedom you learned to strike,
And brave Washington honored you both alike.

You have proved to the nations your mutual might;
You have proved you can suffer, struggle and fight;
By hundreds and thousands lie heaped your slain,
Your life-blood crimsons hill, stream and plain;
Prove of nobler struggle you are able yet,
And your mutual wrongs forgive and forget.

Oh, Father of mercies! stay now each hand,
Put back in its sheath the blood stained brand,
Whisper sage counsel to rulers proud,
Calm the wrath of the people, fierce and loud,
So that their hates and their strife may cease,
And their land know once more the boon of peace.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:53 min read
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Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon, born Rosanna Eleanor Mullins, was a Canadian writer and poet. more…

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