in 1970 following revelations of the
Lai massacre, March 16, 1968
O all you host of heaven!
O earth! What else?
And shall I couple hell? O fie! Hold, hold, my heart,
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
List, list, O list! A tale -
If thou didst ever thy dear country love -
Whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul,
As martial men and busy nations bold,
As brass bound generals who curtly may talk
Of bombing cultures back to rubble-stone,
Enraged, it seems, by cultures not their own,
(And many such like as's of great charge)
Who look on conscience as a craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on the event
And ask their nation's youth, "What would you undertake
To show yourselves indeed your father's sons
More than in words? Have you not heard us tell
No place indeed should murder sanctuarize
When 'Duty, Honor, Country' sounds the sanctuary bell?"
And sons, that for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As in their birth, wherein they are not guilty,
This day did murder for a wretched plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain.
But strange how secret incidents may catch
The public eye by accident and glow
To incandescence - events whose crimson, emblem-like,
Can stamp a decade's conscience (miraculous organ)
And sear the mind and burn away the scales,
As Justice, blinded by the revelation, quails.
Murder! most foul! as in the best it is
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural!
O, Polonius-nation to the race of Man,
Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.
Regard you own immortal soul. Remember me.
And know from this beside: foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.