The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

To America

When the fire sinks in the grate, and night has bent

Close wings about the room, and winter stands

Hard-eyed before the window, when the hands

Have turned the book's last page and friends are sleeping,

Thought, as it were an old stringed instrument

Drawn to remembered music, oft does set

The lips moving in prayer, for us fresh keeping

Knowledge of springtime and the violet.

And, as the eyes grow dim with many years,

The spirit runs more swiftly than the feet,

Perceives its comfort, knows that it will meet

God at the end of troubles, that the dreary

Last reaches of old age lead beyond tears

To happy youth unending. There is peace

In homeward waters, where at last the weary

Shall find rebirth, and their long struggle cease.

So, at this hour, when the Old World lies sick,

Beyond the pain, the agony of breath

Hard drawn, beyond the menaces of death,

O'er graves and years leans out the eager spirit.

First must the ancient die; then shall be quick

New fires within us. Brother, we shall make

Incredible discoveries and inherit

The fruits of hope, and love shall be awake.