Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
Abel’s Blood
By Henry Vaughan (1621–1695)
 
SAD, purple well! Whose bubbling eye
Did first against a murd’rer cry;
Whose streams, still vocal, still complain
        Of bloody Cain:
And now at evening are as red        5
As in the morning when first shed.
        If single thou
—Though single voices are but low,—
Couldst such a shrill and long cry rear
As speaks still in thy Maker’s ear,        10
What thunders shall those men arraign
Who cannot count those they have slain,
Who bathe not in a shallow flood,
But in a deep, wide sea of blood?
A sea, whose loud waves cannot sleep,        15
But deep still calleth upon deep:
Whose urgent sound, like unto that
Of many waters, beateth at
The everlasting doors above,
Where souls behind the altar move,        20
And with one strong, incessant cry
Inquire, ‘How long?’ of the Most High.
        Almighty Judge!
At Whose just laws no just men grudge;
Whose blessed, sweet commands do pour        25
Comforts, and joys, and hopes each hour
On those that keep them; O accept
Of his vow’d heart, whom Thou hast kept
From bloody men! and grant, I may
That sworn memorial duly pay        30
To Thy bright arm, which was my light
And leader through thick death and night!
        Ay! may that flood,
That proudly spilt and despis’d blood,
Speechless and calm, as infant’s sleep!        35
Or if it watch, forgive and weep
For those that spilt it! May no cries
From the low Earth to high Heaven rise,
But what,—like His whose blood peace brings—
Shall—when they rise—‘speak better things’        40
Than Abel’s doth! May Abel be
Still single heard, while these agree
With His mild blood in voice and will
Who pray’d for those that did Him kill!
 
 
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