War Time Rhymes
by Edgar A. Guest
(published 1918)

Over Here

Pledged to the bravest and the best,
We stand, who cannot share the fray,
Staunch for the danger and the test.
Be with them, Lord, who serve the truth,
And make us worthy of our youth!

Here mother-love and father-love
Unite in love of country now:
Here to the flag that flies above,
Our heads we reverently bow;
Here as one people, night and day,
For victory we work and pray.

Nor race nor creed shall difference make,
Nor bigot mar the zealot's plan;
We give our all for Freedom's sake,
Each man a king, each king a man.
Make us the equal, Lord, we pray
Of them who die for truth to-day!

Let us as gladly give our best,
Let us as bravely pay the price
As they, who in the bitter test
Meet the supremest sacrifice.
Oh, God! Wherever we are led,
Let us be worthy of our dead!

Let us not compromise the truth,
Let us not cringe so much in fear
That foes may whisper to our youth
That we have failed in courage here.
Lord, strengthen us, that they may know
Our spirits follow where they go!

Why We Fight
This is the thing we fight:
A cry of terror in the night;
A ship on work of mercy bent—
A carrier of the sick and maimed—
Beneath the cruel waters sent,
And those that did it, unashamed.

A woman who had tried to fill,
A mother's place; had nursed the ill
And soothed the troubled brows of pain
And earned the dying's grateful prayers,
Before a wall by soldiers slain!
And such a poor pretext was theirs!

Old women pierced by bayonets grim
And babies slaughtered for a whim,
Cathedrals made the sport of shells,
No mercy, even for a child,
As though the imps of all the hells
Were crazed with drink and running wild.

All this we fight—that some day when
Good sense shall come again to men,
Our children's children may not read
This age's history thus defamed
And find we served a selfish creed
And ever be of us ashamed!

God has been good to men. He gave
His Only Son their souls to save,
And then he made a second gift,
Which from their dreary lives should lift
The tyrant's yoke and set them free
From all who'd throttle liberty.
He gave America to men,
Fashioned this land we love, and then
Deep in her forests sowed the seed
Which was to serve man's earthly need.

When wisps of smoke first upwards curled
From pilgrim fires, upon the world
Unnoticed and unseen, began
God's second work of grace for man.
Here where the savage roamed and fought,
God sowed the seed of nobler thought;
Here to the land we love to claim,
The pioneers of freedom came;
Here has been cradled all that's best
In every human mind and breast.

For full four hundred years and more
Our land has stretched her welcoming shore
To weary feet from soils afar;
Soul-shackled serfs of king and czar
Have journeyed here and toiled and sung
And talked of freedom to their young,
And God above has smiled to see
This precious work of liberty,
And watched this second gift He gave
The dreary lives of men to save.

And now, when liberty's at bay,
And blood-stained tyrants force the fray,
Worn warriors, battling for the right,
Crushed by oppression's cruel might,
Hear in the dark through which they grope
America's glad cry of hope:
Man's liberty is not to die!
America is standing by!
World-wide shall human lives be free:
America has crossed the sea!

America! the land we love!
God's second gift from Heaven above,
Builded and fashioned out of truth,
Sinewed by Him with splendid youth
For that glad day when shall be furled
All tyrant flags throughout the world.
For this our banner holds the sky:
That liberty shall never die.
For this, America began:
To make a brotherhood of man.

The Time for Deeds
We have boasted our courage in moments of ease,
Our star-spangled banner we've flung on the breeze;
We have taught men to cheer for its beauty and worth,
And have called it the flag of the bravest on earth
Now the dark days are here, we must stand to the test.
Oh, God! let us prove we are true to our best!

We have drunk to our flag, and we've talked of the right
We have challenged oppression to show us its might;
We have strutted for years through the world as a race
That for God and for country, earth's tyrants would face;
Now the gage is flung down, hate is loosed in the world.
Oh, God! shall our flag in dishonor be furled?

We have said we are brave; we have preached of the truth,
We have walked in conceit of the strength of our youth;
We have mocked at the ramparts and guns of the foe,
As though we believed we could laugh them all low.
Now oppression has struck! We are challenged to fight!
Oh, God! let us prove we can stand for the right!

If in honor and glory our flag is to wave,
If we are to keep this—the land of the brave;
If more than fine words are to fashion our creeds,
Now must our hands and our hearts turn to deeds.
We are challenged by tyrants our strength to reveal!
Oh, God! let us prove that our courage is real!

Everywhere in America
Not somewhere in America, but everywhere to-day,
Where snow-crowned mountains hold their heads, the vales where children play,
Beside the bench and whirring lathe, on every lake and stream
And in the depths of earth below, men share a common dream—
The dream our brave forefathers had of freedom and of right,
And once again in honor's cause, they rally and unite.

Not somewhere in America is love of country found;
But east and west and north and south once more the bugles sound,
And once again, as one, men stand to break their brother's chains,
And make the world a better place, where only justice reigns.
The patriotism that is here, is echoed over there.
The hero at a certain post is on guard everywhere.
O'er humble home and mansion rich the starry banner flies,
And far and near thoughout the land the men of valor rise.

The flag that flutters o'er your home is fluttering far away
O'er homes that you have never seen. The same impulses sway
The souls of men in distant states. The red, the white and blue
Means to one hundred million strong, just what it means to you.
The self-same courage resolute you feel and understand
Is throbbing in the breasts of men thoughout this mighty land.
Not somewhere in America, but everywhere to-day,
For justice and for liberty all free men work and pray.

© 1999, Lynn Waterman