An Apology

By Julia Ward Howe

For A Warm Word Spoken

I spake, perhaps, too sharp a word
For one bred up in modesty,
But base injustice, trivial scorn
On honor heaped, had angered me.

The smile of courtesy forsook
These lips, so timid even for good,
While o’er the paleness of my brow
Flashed crimson, the indignant blood.

Nor could I to the contest bring
The trainèd weapon of the mind,
Snatching from Reason’s armory
Such shafts as grief had left behind.

Grief for the faltering of the Age,
Grief for my country and my race,
Grief to sit here with Christian men,
That boast their want of Christian grace.

I say not that the man I praise
By that poor tribute stands more high,
I say not that the man I blame
Be not of purer worth than I;

But when I move reluctant lips
For holy Justice, human Right,
The sacred cause I strive to plead
Lends me its favor and its might.

And I must argue from the faith
Which gave the fervor of my youth,
Or keep such silence as yon stars,
That only look and live God’s truth.