Do not cheer, for men are dying
From their distant homes in pain;
And the restless sea is darkened
By a flood of crimson rain.
Do not cheer, for anxious mothers
Wait and watch in lonely dread;
Vainly waiting for the footsteps
Never more their paths to tread.
Do not cheer, while little children
Gather round the widowed wife,
Wondering why an unknown people
Sought their own dear father's life.
Do not cheer, for aged fathers
Bend above their staves and weep,
While the ocean sings the requiem
Where their fallen children sleep.
Do not cheer, for lips are paling
On which lay the mother's kiss;
'Mid the dreadful roar of battle
How that mother's hand they miss!
Do not cheer: once joyous maidens,
Who the mazy dance did tread,
Bow their heads in bitter anguish,
Mourning o'er their cherished dead.
Do not cheer while maid and matron
In this strife must bear a part;
While the blow that strikes a soldier
Reaches to some woman's heart.
Do not cheer till arbitration
O'er the nations holds its sway,
And the century now closing
Ushers in a brighter day.
Do not cheer until the nation
Shall more wise and thoughtful grow
Than to staunch a stream of sorrow
By an avalanche of woe.
Do not cheer until each nation
Sheathes the sword and blunts the spear,
And we sing aloud for gladness:
Lo, the reign of Christ is here,
And the banners of destruction
From the battlefield are furled,
And the peace of God descending
Rests upon a restless world.
— Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1824-1911)