The Enemy

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Would'st thou this monster, that we name the world,
Who round the envied tree of blissful fruit
Lies like a dragon curled
In jealous watch, our venture to dispute;
Would'st thou that she were smoothly negligent,
By any pleader bent,
A tender judge, to tears and pity prone,
She that on love defeated builds her throne,
The spoiler strong, sanguine with our despairs,
She that the traitor in us holds in fee,
Rich with our woes, with our fears cruel, she
Whose easy wisdom the sad heart ensnares?

Rather rejoice that this immortal foe
To truceless war our ardour challenges.
She hath her task to do,
Her maw to fill, her rages to appease;
Nor less because the noble rebel claims
Exemption from her shames,
Is of her native harshness justified.
Sharp be our swords, trebly our armour tried,
Our hearts enduring and relentless be
To look her 'twixt the eyes as conquering men
And take her worst of wounds. For then, O then,
If we can bear our freedom, we are free.

© Robert Laurence Binyon