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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


How shall we reconstruct this battered world?
How gather up the fragments one by one,
    And then re-do the work that was undone
When law and order to the dust were hurled:
That which peace builded in a hundred years,
    At war's fell touch, in one day disappears.

Before the task that greets the startled eye
The race heart trembles, troubled and afraid.
    Out of such chaos can a world be made?
It needs the courage of a God to try!
War has not only laid earth's structures low--
    But faith and hope and courage seemed to go.

The retrospective, sorrowing mind of grief
Was never known to have constructive power.
    Begin on thine own self--begin this hour
To call back aspiration and belief.
Then try to grasp Jehovah's dauntless thought,
    Who builded solar systems out of nought.

Thou art Jehovah's counterpart: look up
And know thy prowess: life on earth is meant
    Only for man to grasp the Great Intent,
And from the Spirit's source, to fill his cup.
There is no recognition of the whole
    Until God wakes in every separate soul.

In the large laboratory of the mind
Work out the reconstruction of thy heart
    Until each thought--each impulse--does its part
Toward building that new world where men are kind,
Where love is law, and that word Brotherhood,
    Long mouthed by men, at last is understood.

We may not lift each column from the sod,
Nor to Cathedrals give their ruined grace,
    But we can build foundations for the Race,
The Super Race, that bears the traits of God.
Oh, long the pathway, and the toil intense!
    On thine own self--on thine own self--commence. 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox's other poems:
  1. The Birth of the Opal
  2. The Chain
  3. At Forty-Eight
  4. Artist and Man
  5. As by Fire

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Andrew Paterson Reconstruction ("So, the bank has bust itТs boiler! And in six or seven year")

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