The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

A Cross in Flanders

In the face of death, they say, he joked -- he had no fear:

His comrades, when they laid him in a Flanders grave,

Wrote on a rough-hewn cross -- a Calvary stood near --

"Without fear he gave

His life, cheering his men, with laughter on his lips."

So wrote they, mourning him. Yet was there only one

Who fully understood his laughter, his gay quips,

One only, she alone --

She who, not so long since, when love was new-confest,

Herself toyed with light laughter while her eyes were dim,

And jested, while with reverence despite her jest

She worshipped God and him.

She knew -- O Love, O Death! -- his soul had been at grips

With the most solemn things. For she, was she not dear?

Yes, he was brave, most brave, with laughter on his lips

The braver for his fear!