The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

A Little Grimy--Fingered Girl

In sending his permission to use this sharp flash of the spirit of France, Mr. Dodd wrote: "It may interest you to know that the little grimy-fingered girl is real, and that I bought L'Intrans' from her every evening for many months during the dark days of last springin Paris." The spring referred to being that of 1918, when the Germans were only a few miles from the city.

A LITTLE grimy--fingered girl

In stringy black and broken shoes

Stands where sharp human eddies whirl

And offers--news:

News from the front. "'L'Intransigeant',

M'sieu, comme d'ordinaire?" Her smile

Is friendly though her face is gaunt;

There is no guile,

No mere mechanic flash of teeth,

No calculating leer of glance...

You wear your courage like a wreath,

Daughter of France.

Back of old sorrow in tired eyes

Back of endurance, through the night

That wearies you and makes you wise,

I see a light

Unshaken, proud, that does not pale,

--And you are nobody, my dear;

"Une vraie gamine," who does not quail,

Who knows not fear.

Rattle your sabers, Lords of Hate,

Ye shall not force them to their knees!

A street-girl scorns your God, your State--

The least of these....

Place du Th"é""Â"tre Francais,
Paris, February, 1918.

Notes

In sending his permission to use this sharp flash of the spirit of France, Mr. Dodd wrote: "It may interest you to know that the little grimy-fingered girl is real, and that I bought L'Intrans' from her every evening for many months during the dark days of last springin Paris." The spring referred to being that of 1918, when the Germans were only a few miles from the city.