The Death of Œnone, and Other Poems

The Dawn

Alfred Tennyson

“You are but children.”                     
Egyptian Priest to Solon.

                RED of the Dawn!
Screams of a babe in the red-hot palms of a Moloch of Tyre,
    Man with his brotherless dinner on man in the tropical wood,
Priests in the name of the Lord passing souls thro’ fire to the fire,
    Head-hunters and boats of Dahomey that float upon human blood!

                Red of the Dawn!
Godless fury of peoples, and Christless frolic of kings,
    And the bolt of war dashing down upon cities and blazing farms,
    For Babylon was a child new-born, and Rome was a babe in arms,
And London and Paris and all the rest are as yet but in leading-strings.

                Dawn not Day,
While scandal is mouthing a bloodless name at her cannibal feast,
    And rake-ruin’d bodies and souls go down in a common wreck,
And the press of a thousand cities is prized for it smells of the beast,
    Or easily violates Virgin Truth for a coin or a cheque.

                Dawn not Day!
Is it Shame, so few should have climb’d from the dens in the level below,
    Men, with a heart and a soul, no slaves of a four-footed will?
    But if twenty million of summers are stored in the sunlight still,
We are far from the noon of man, there is time for the race to grow.

                Red of the Dawn!
Is it turning a fainter red? so be it, but when shall we lay
    The Ghost of the Brute that is walking and haunting us yet, and be free?
    In a hundred, a thousand winters? Ah, what will our children be,
The men of a hundred thousand, a million summers away?

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