Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn


Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn born Norfolk, VA February 4, 1876 (d. 1959). Quaker poet; pacifist; suffragist; socialist. Co-founded Anti-Enlistment League, 1915.


His country cowered under the mailed fist
Of the great soldier nation of his day; 
But did he volunteer? Not he : instead
He talked in ill-timed, ill-judged platitudes, 
Urging a most unpatriotic peace. 
People that had been once slapped in the face
Ought to stand still, he thought, till slapped again; 
And if we were insulted, we should watch
For chances to return it with a favor. 
I will say for him, milksop as he was, 
He was consistent: for he let himself
Be knocked about the streets and spit upon. 
And never had the manhood to hit back. 
Of course he had no sense at all of honor,— 
Either his country's honor, or his own,—
Contemptible poltroon! His name was Jesus.

(Poem, "The Poltroon")