Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
The Price
By William Rose Benét
What is it you buy with so much blood
  And so much sorrow?
A thing but darkly understood—
  We buy Tomorrow.
Why is it you sow with blasting flame        5
  To reap with passion?
When was it then that a good thing came
  In an easy fashion?
Have you not also fallen and sinned?
  You are sin to the marrow!        10
We are but as straws that show the wind,
  As blades to the harrow.
Iniquity, iniquity,
  Though much befriended,
Yet it shall perish utterly;        15
  It shall be ended!
Do you see then an end of wars,
  An end of weeping?
We see the reticent ranks of stars
  Shine on our sleeping.        20
We hear the great earth sigh and turn,
  And the seas sighing;
And the angry sunsets flame and burn
  With old dreams dying.
But earlier than the early dawn,        25
  So chill, so grayly,
Comes that which never is withdrawn,
  Comes to us daily,
Comes to us, after every mood
  Of pain or passion—        30
The certitude, the certitude
  Of what we fashion!
Are you so devout, who never trod
  ’Neath spire or steeple?
But we have spoken with our God,        35
  The God of the People.
Our blood the dye, his robe the sod
  That we lie under;
We have heard the still voice of our God
  Through flame and thunder.        40
What are these wild words of some change
  You bring to being?
We only know it shall be strange
  Beyond foreseeing!
We have lain down, we have stood up        45
  (Past all dissembling!)
With Death, with Death. We have quaffed the cup,
  The cup of trembling …
So we but whisper brokenly,
  As dead men do,        50
The great strange things that are to be,
  That shall come true.
For we are blinded, and we see;
  Deaf, and have ears;
Despoiled, and co-heirs perfectly        55
  Of coming years.
Life higher than we ever thought,
  Deeper than death—
This with our life-blood we have bought,
  With our vain breath.        60
Over fire-curtained slime of the fen,
  Through insensate clamor,
We have heard the building thoughts of men
  Hammer and hammer.
We have heard the splitting of codes apart,        65
  The ripping of glamour
Like colored curtains, and Man’s strong heart
  Hammer and hammer.
We have heard the sledges of a state
  Beyond our hoping        70
Thunder and thunder. We are great
  Who once were groping.
Out of the slag and fume of the pit
  We have seen uprearing
A blinding witness; because of it        75
  We are done with fearing.
Out of the bowels of Hell-on-earth
  We have seen upstraining
A winged archangel of rebirth
  Too strong for chaining.        80
Now ours is the strength, ours is the might—
  Yea, by these powers,
Ours is the earth for light and right,
  And the future ours,
Who have rent our hearts, our blood outpoured,        85
  Who have drunk all sorrow,
Who have found our strength, walked with our Lord,
  And bought Tomorrow!

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