Prayer Of A Soldier In France

1 My shoulders ache beneath my pack
2 (Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

3 I march with feet that burn and smart
4 (Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

5 Men shout at me who may not speak
6 (They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

7 I may not lift a hand to clear
8 My eyes of salty drops that sear.

9 (Then shall my fickle soul forget
10 Thy agony of Bloody Sweat?)

11 My rifle hand is stiff and numb
12 (From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

13 Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
14 Than all the hosts of land and sea.

15 So let me render back again
16 This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

"Dulce et decorum est"

The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.

The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.

Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.

May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.

In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.

To A Blackbird And His Mate Who Died In The Spring

(For Kenton)

An iron hand has stilled the throats
That throbbed with loud and rhythmic glee
And dammed the flood of silver notes
That drenched the world in melody.
The blosmy apple boughs are yearning
For their wild choristers' returning,
But no swift wings flash through the tree.

Ye that were glad and fleet and strong,
Shall Silence take you in her net?
And shall Death quell that radiant song
Whose echo thrills the meadow yet?
Burst the frail web about you clinging
And charm Death's cruel heart with singing
Till with strange tears his eyes are wet.

The scented morning of the year
Is old and stale now ye are gone.
No friendly songs the children hear
Among the bushes on the lawn.
When babies wander out a-Maying
Will ye, their bards, afar be straying?
Unhymned by you, what is the dawn?

Nay, since ye loved ye cannot die.
Above the stars is set your nest.
Through Heaven's fields ye sing and fly
And in the trees of Heaven rest.
And little children in their dreaming
Shall see your soft black plumage gleaming
And smile, by your clear music blest.

The White Ships And The Red

(For Alden March)

With drooping sail and pennant
That never a wind may reach,
They float in sunless waters
Beside a sunless beach.
Their mighty masts and funnels
Are white as driven snow,
And with a pallid radiance
Their ghostly bulwarks glow.

Here is a Spanish galleon
That once with gold was gay,
Here is a Roman trireme
Whose hues outshone the day.
But Tyrian dyes have faded,
And prows that once were bright
With rainbow stains wear only
Death's livid, dreadful white.

White as the ice that clove her
That unforgotten day,
Among her pallid sisters
The grim Titanic lay.
And through the leagues above her
She looked aghast, and said:
"What is this living ship that comes
Where every ship is dead?"

The ghostly vessels trembled
From ruined stern to prow;
What was this thing of terror
That broke their vigil now?
Down through the startled ocean
A mighty vessel came,
Not white, as all dead ships must be,
But red, like living flame!

The pale green waves about her
Were swiftly, strangely dyed,
By the great scarlet stream that flowed
From out her wounded side.
And all her decks were scarlet
And all her shattered crew.
She sank among the white ghost ships
And stained them through and through.

The grim Titanic greeted her
"And who art thou?" she said;
"Why dost thou join our ghostly fleet
Arrayed in living red?
We are the ships of sorrow
Who spend the weary night,
Until the dawn of Judgment Day,
Obscure and still and white."

"Nay," said the scarlet visitor,
"Though I sink through the sea,
A ruined thing that was a ship,
I sink not as did ye.
For ye met with your destiny
By storm or rock or fight,
So through the lagging centuries
Ye wear your robes of white.

"But never crashing iceberg
Nor honest shot of foe,
Nor hidden reef has sent me
The way that I must go.
My wound that stains the waters,
My blood that is like flame,
Bear witness to a loathly deed,
A deed without a name.

"I went not forth to battle,
I carried friendly men,
The children played about my decks,
The women sang -- and then --
And then -- the sun blushed scarlet
And Heaven hid its face,
The world that God created
Became a shameful place!

"My wrong cries out for vengeance,
The blow that sent me here
Was aimed in Hell. My dying scream
Has reached Jehovah's ear.
Not all the seven oceans
Shall wash away that stain;
Upon a brow that wears a crown
I am the brand of Cain."

When God's great voice assembles
The fleet on Judgment Day,
The ghosts of ruined ships will rise
In sea and strait and bay.
Though they have lain for ages
Beneath the changeless flood,
They shall be white as silver,
But one -- shall be like blood.

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