The Arsenal at Springfield by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The Arsenal at Springfield

This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
      Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
      Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
      When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
      Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus,
      The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which, through the ages that have gone before us,
      In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer,
      Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman’s song,
And loud, amid the universal clamor,
      O’er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.
I hear the Florentine, who from his palace
      Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din,
And Aztec priests upon their teocallis
      Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent’s skin;
The tumult of each sacked and burning village;
      The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns;
The soldiers’ revels in the midst of pillage;
      The wail of famine in beleaguered towns;
The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder,
      The rattling musketry, the clashing blade;
And ever and anon, in tones of thunder
      The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,
      With such accursed instruments as these,
Thou drownest Nature’s sweet and kindly voices,
      And jarrest the celestial harmonies?
Were half the power, that fills the world with terror,
      Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
      There were no need of arsenals or forts:
The warrior’s name would be a name abhorred!
      And every nation, that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead
      Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain!
Down the dark future, through long generations,
      The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;
And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
      I hear once more the voice of Christ say, “Peace!”
Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals
      The blast of War’s great organ shakes the skies!
But beautiful as songs of the immortals,
      The holy melodies of love arise.
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About The Mithril Guardian

I like stories.  Whether they’re on film, in song, or in print, I always remember a good story.  They remind me of paintings.  People cannot see them without learning something.  So it’s a good idea to look at a story from as many angles as possible.  I can watch the same movie a million times and still I will learn something that I did not know before.  Thoughts on the Edge of Forever is where I get to focus on what I learned from stories; what was not obvious the first time, the second time, or the umpteenth time. Earlier posts are written in the form of letters, usually to specific characters, to point out what I saw in a particular story or heard in a piece of music. Some of those letters, though, are like letters to the editor. Why did someone write a story this way and not another? Would the story have turned out better if the writer had done something different? These ‘letters to the editor’ will probably never be answered by the writers - the characters certainly will not answer anything - but their contents are still up for debate. After all, unless you ask a question, you will never get an answer. Still, civil ground rules apply. Any foul language or other form of abuse will not be tolerated in Thoughts on the Edge of Forever. I mean, who wants to be around the guest at the dinner party who is being nasty? Practically nobody, since people go to a party to have fun, not to hang around a grouch. So let’s have fun! The Mithril Guardian
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