The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

The Journey

I went upon a journey

To countries far away,

From province unto province

To pass my holiday.

And when I came to Serbia,

In a quiet little town

At an inn with a flower-filled garden

With a soldier I sat down.

Now he lies dead at Belgrade.

You heard the cannon roar!

It boomed from Rome to Stockholm,

It pealed to the far west shore.

And when I came to Russia,

A man with flowing hair

Called me his friend and showed me

A flowing river there.

Now he lies dead at Lemberg,

Beside another stream,

In his dark eyes extinguished

The friendship of his dream.

And then I crossed two countries

Whose names on my lips are sealed...

Not yet had they flung their challenge

Nor led upon the field

Sons who lie dead at Li├Ęge,

Dead by the Russian lance,

Dead in southern mountains,

Dead through the farms of France.

I stopped in the land of Louvain,

So tranquil, happy, then.

I lived with a good old woman,

With her sons and her grandchildren.

Now they lie dead at Louvain,

Those simple kindly folk.

Some heard, some fled. It must be

Some slept, for they never woke.

I came to France. I was thirsty.

I sat me down to dine.

The host and his young wife served me

With bread and fruit and wine.

Now he lies dead at Cambrai --

He was sent among the first.

In dreams she sees him dying

Of wounds, of heat, of thirst.

At last I passed to Dover

And saw upon the shore

A tall young English captain

And soldiers, many more.

Now they lie dead at Dixmude,

The brave, the strong, the young!

I turn unto my homeland,

All my journey sung!