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This poem is often wrongly thought to be by Robert W Service. It is published here to the memory of Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, its rightful father.
An Evening with the Bard of the Yukon, July 18 th 2003 at 20.30pm in the Town-Hall of Lancieux, Brittany.
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Archives > Books and Poetry > Poetry > Rhymes of a Rebel > Nineteen Ninety-Nine

Nineteen Ninety-Nine

Published by Webmaster on 07/30/2003 (5680 reads)
Dire New Year's Eve - a Century is near

Nineteen Ninety-Nine

Dire New Year's Eve - a Century is near
Its agonizing, unlamented death;
A hundred years of fortitude and fear,
Of devastation and distressful breath,
Racked by world wars, the last four-fold the worst;
'Tis passing now - a Century accurst.

And sitting by my dying fire tonight
I think: O what a woeful world this is!
I've seen the rise and fall of Russian might,
The crash of dictatures and dynasties:
When each new moon was millioning the dead
I've borne the Teuton terror and the Red.

Yet no salvation for mankind I see;
The devil-men have swayed this world too long;
Mankind will ever struggle to be free,
And right will never triumph over wrong.
(How I recall with nauseating shock
The horror of the Nazi midnight knock!)

Nature is beautiful and mostly kind,
And yet with war a curt decade away
I see a rancid race, embittered blind,
In lands of desolation and decay:
I see a Century that dies in pain
From languishing of anarchy's red reign.

Life is a mystery and will always be;
The destiny of man is dawnless death.
No hope of human brotherhood I see,
One world, one race, one rule - waste not your breath!
We have unleashed dark demons of unruth:
We die of too much knowledge, too much truth.

In ignorance is happiness, a cot
Is richer than the palace of a king;
The brutish peasant in his lowly lot
Should be the object of our envying:
Back to the soil - our pride shall end in this:
The path of progress leads to the abyss.

The span from fruitfulness to frightfulness
Is just the echo of a tyrant's word.
Tonight a siƩcle of dark distress
Is dying - O have mercy on us, Lord!
Be peace Thy very name, if God Thou be,
And in our hearts, this new-born Century
May there reign Justice, Love, Humility!

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