The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

The Healers

In a vision of the night I saw them,

In the battles of the night.

'Mid the roar and the reeling shadows of blood

They were moving like light,

Light of the reason, guarded

Tense within the will,

As a lantern under a tossing of boughs

Burns steady and still.

With scrutiny calm, and with fingers

Patient as swift

They bind up the hurts and the pain-writhen

Bodies uplift,

Untired and defenceless; around them

With shrieks in its breath

Bursts stark from the terrible horizon

Impersonal death;

But they take not their courage from anger

That blinds the hot being;

They take not their pity from weakness;

Tender, yet seeing;

Feeling, yet nerved to the uttermost;

Keen, like steel;

Yet the wounds of the mind they are stricken with,

Who shall heal?

They endure to have eyes of the watcher

In hell, and not swerve

For an hour from the faith that they follow,

The light that they serve.

Man true to man, to his kindness

That overflows all,

To his spirit erect in the thunder

When all his forts fall, --

This light, in the tiger-mad welter,

They serve and they save.

What song shall be worthy to sing of them --

Braver than the brave?