The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

Rheims Cathedral -- 1914

A wing├Ęd death has smitten dumb thy bells,

And poured them molten from thy tragic towers:

Now are the windows dust that were thy flowers

Patterned like frost, petalled like asphodels.

Gone are the angels and the archangels,

The saints, the little lamb above thy door,

The shepherd Christ! They are not, any more,

Save in the soul where exiled beauty dwells.

But who has heard within thy vaulted gloom

That old divine insistence of the sea,

When music flows along the sculptured stone

In tides of prayer, for him thy windows bloom

Like faithful sunset, warm immortally!

Thy bells live on, and Heaven is in their tone!