“Give me the heart of a Man!”

My poem of the week this week is one my oldest son found a few months ago when I gave them a few books of poetry and required them to find one they would read and explain for all of us the following day. After reading it aloud for us he suggested it would be a useful one to have memorized. So today is the day for each of them to recite it from memory.

I want my boys to learn dogged determination and perseverance and this poem captures that well.

Battle Cry 

More than half beaten, but fearless,
Facing the storm and the night;
Breathless and reeling but tearless,
Here in the lull of the fight,
I who bow not but before thee,
God of the fighting Clan,
Lifting my fists, I implore Thee,
Give me the heart of a Man!

What though I live with the winners
Or perish with those who fall?
Only the cowards are sinners,
Fighting the fight is all.
Strong is my foe–he advances!
Snapt is my blade, O Lord!
See the proud banners and lances!
Oh, spare me this stub of a sword!

Give me no pity, nor spare me;
Calm not the wrath of my Foe.
See where he beckons to dare me!
Bleeding, half beaten–I go.
Not for the glory of winning,
Not for the fear of the night;
Shunning the battle is sinning–
Oh, spare me the heart to fight!

Red is the mist about me;
Deep is the wound in my side;
“Coward” thou criest to flout me?
O terrible Foe, thou hast lied!
Here with my battle before me,
God of the fighting Clan,
Grant that the woman who bore me
Suffered to suckle a Man!

by John Gneisenau Neihardt

One Comment

  1. Is that messianic typology I detect? That last few lines really reminds me of the cross. Something like Johnny Cash’s “When the Man comes around.” Really good stuff. May we have God-given courage even when we are more than half beaten.

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