The Conquerors

I SAW the Conquerors riding by
— With trampling feet of horse and men:
Empire on empire like the tide
— Flooded the world and ebbed again;

A thousand banners caught the sun,
— And cities smoked along the plain,
And laden down with silk and gold
— And heaped-up pillage groaned the wain.

I saw the Conquerors riding by,
— Splashing through loathsome floods of war —
The Crescent leaning o'er its hosts,
— And the barbaric scimitar, —

And continents of moving spears,
— And storms of arrows in the sky,
And all the instruments sought out
— By cunning men that men may die!

I saw the Conquerors riding by
— With cruel lips and faces wan:
Musing on kingdoms sacked and burned
— There rode the Mongol Ghengis Khan;

And Alexander, like a god,
— Who sought to weld the world in one;
And Caesar with his laurel wreath;
— And like a thing from Hell the Hun;

And, leading like a star the van,
— Heedless of upstretched arm and groan,
Inscrutable Napoleon went
— Dreaming of empire, and alone. . . .

Then all they perished from the earth
— As fleeting shadows from a glass,
And, conquering down the centuries,
— Came Christ, the Swordless, on an ass!
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