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                Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)

                            Righteous Wrath

    There are many kinds of hatred, as many kinds of fire;
    And some are fierce and fatal with murderous desire;
    And some are mean and craven, revengeful, sullen, slow,
    They hurt the man that holds them more than they hurt his foe.

    And yet there is a hatred that purifies the heart:
    The anger of the better against the baser part,
    Against the false and wicked, against the tyrant's sword,
    Against the enemies of love, and all that hate the Lord.

    O cleansing indignation, O flame of righteous wrath,
    Give me a soul to feel thee and follow in thy path!
    Save me from selfish virtue, arm me for fearless fight,
    And give me strength to carry on, a soldier of the Right!


A Presbyterian Minister, Henry Van Dyke is perhaps best known for The Story of the Other Wise Man and for the Hymn of Joy ("Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, ..."). He was also a prolific poet, and the above poem can be found in:
  • Van Dyke, Henry. Golden Stars and Other Verses. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1919.

    Righteous Wrath was written in January 1918.

    The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. On January 8, 1918 Woodrow Wilson declared his fourteen point path to world peace. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 after lengthy negotiations.

    A strong argument can be made that many of the wars that have happened since can be attributed to the French and British negotiators' failure to adopt the spirit of Wilson's fourteen points, and to instead embrace revenge.