The Great War

from The Volunteer and Other Poems, an electronic edition

The Fallen Subaltern.

THE starshells float above, the bayonets glisten

We bear our fallen friend without a sound;

Below the waiting legions lie and listen

To us, who march upon their burial-ground.

Wound in the flag of England, here we lay him;

The guns will flash and thunder o'er the grave;

What other winding sheet should now array him,

What other music should salute the brave ?

As goes the Sun-god in his chariot glorious,

When all his golden banners are unfurled,

So goes the soldier, fallen but victorious,

And leaves behind a twilight in the world.

And those, who come this way in days hereafter,

Will know that here a boy for England fell,

Who looked at danger with the eyes of laughter,

And on the charge his days were ended well.

One last salute; the bayonets clash and glisten;

With arms reversed we go without a sound:

One more has joined the men who lie and listen

To us, who march upon their burial-ground.