Challenge
 

I have a vague remembrance
Of a story that is told
In some ancient Spanish legend
Or chronicle of old.

It was when brave King Sanche
Was before Zamora slain,
And his great besieging army
Lay encamped upon the plain.

Don Diego de Ordenez
Sallied forth in front of all,
And shouted loud his challenge
To the warders on the wall.

All the people of Zamora,
Both the born and the unborn,
As traitors did he challenge
With taunting words of scorn.

The living in their houses,
And in their graves the dead,
And the waters in their rivers,
And their wine, and oil, and bread.

There is a greater army
That besets us round with strife,
A starving, numberless army
At all the gates of life.

The poverty-stricken millions
Who challenge our wine and bread,
And impeach us all as traitors,
Both the living and the dead.

And whenever I sit at the banquet,
Where the feast and song are high,
Amid the mirth and music
I can hear that fearful cry.

And hollow and haggard faces
Look into the lighted hall,
And wasted hands are extended
To catch the crumbs that fall

And within there is light and plenty,
And odours fill the air;
But without there is cold and darkness,
And hunger and despair.

And there in the camp of famine,
In wind, and cold, and rain,
Christ, the great Lord of the Army,
Lies dead upon the plain.

Longfellow