The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

France

I WAS an exile from my own country and wandered over the breast of the world seeking another country.

And I came into a land where there was only a long spring and a long autumn, where they did not know the deadly heats of our summers or the mortal colds of our mountains. Among the vines and sunny fields I saw thepeople of this land at work, ever young of soul, smiling, loving, and kindly.

I asked, "What is the name of this happy place?"

And the answer was, "France the voluptuous."

I came to towns of splendid monuments, of harmonious buildings, of proud triumphal arches of the past, and above always I saw the spires of great cathedrals stretching toward the sky, as if to seize upon the feet of God.

I asked, "What is the name of this marvelous land?"

And the answer was, "France the glorious."

I advanced again, when I was struck by the red color of a large river. . . It was a river of warm blood that rolled down from afar in thick and heavy waves. I advanced again. Before me dark clouds of smoke hid the endless sky above huge fields of warriors in battle; when these died smiling at death others took their places, singing.

I asked, "What is the name of this chivalrous land?"

And the answer was, "France the courageous."

At last I came to an immense city, of which I saw neither the beginning nor the end, a city full of sumptuous palaces, of parks, and fountains. The sun glistened on the marble of the streets and kissed the serene, resignedfaces of women clothed in black. The chimes of churches filled the air with solemn sounds, and words, until then unknown to me, "Te Deumn" came from the throats of thousands of thousands.

With respect I asked, "What is tile name of this land

that mourns?"

And the answer was, "France the Victorious."

I kissed the earth of this land and said "I have found my country, who was in exile."