The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

The Battle-Line

ATHWART that land of bloss'ming vine

Stretches the awful battle-line;

A lark hangs singing in the sky,

With sullen shrapnel bursting nigh!

Along the poplar-bordered road

The peasant trudges with his load,

While horsemen and artillery

Rush to red fields that are to be!

The plains for tillage furrowed well

Are now replowed with shot and shell!

The ditches, swollen by the rain,

Show bloated faces of the slain.

The hedge-rows sweet with leaf and flower

Now mask the cannon's murderous power!

Small birds by household cares opprest

Beg truce and time to build their nest.

The sun sinks down--oh, blest release!

And the spent world cries out for peace,

In vain! In vain! Tho' mild stars shine,

War wakes the thundering battle-line.