The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition


At a pillaged hamlet near Termonde, I asked a dying peasant woman into which of the houses still standing should assist her--which was her home? She pressed a withered hand to her bayonet-pierced side and answered: "The Germans have taken one home from me; but, without knowing it, they have given me another. I am going there now."

My house that I so soon shall own

Is builded in a silent place,

Not uncompanioned or alone,

But shared by almost all my race;

No landscape from its windows rolls

A picture of the earth's increase;

But, oh, for all our stricken souls,

Within its sturdy walls is--Peace.

The other house I used to love

Before they burnt it overhead;

My slaughtered man; the memory of

Our daughter screaming in the red

Embrace of Uhlans at my door,

Her shrieks all silenced by their shout

Of drunken fury--that was war,

And my new home will shut it out.

I shall not see the German hands

That tear the baby from the breast;

I shall not hear the plundering bands

Laughing at murder: I shall rest.

There joy shall never riot in

Nor robber sorrow find his way;

Those shutters bar the call of Sin,

And Duty has no debt to pay.

So much I shall be heedless of,

Serene, secure, dispassionate;

There is not anything to love;

There is not anything to hate.

So in my house I shall forget

All of the orgies and the strife,

And find, past memory and regret,

The Resurrection and the Life.