The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

Your Lad, and My Lad

DOWN toward the deep-blue water, marching to throb of drum,

From city street and country lane the lines of khaki come;

The rumbling guns, the sturdy tread, are full of grim appeal,

While rays of western sunshine flash back from burnished steel.

With eager eyes and cheeks aflame the serried ranks advance;

And your dear lad, and my dear lad, are on their way to France.

A sob clings choking in the throat, as file on file sweep by,

Between those cheering multitudes, to where the great ships lie;

The batteries halt, the columns wheel, to clear-toned bugle-call.

With shoulders squared and faces front they stand a khaki wall.

Tears shine on every watcher's cheek, love speaks in every glance;

For your dear lad, and my dear lad, are on their way to France.

Before them, through a mist of years, in soldier buff or blue,

Brave comrades from a thousand fields watch now in proud review;

The same old Flag, the same old Faith,--the Freedom of the World--

Spells Duty in those flapping folds above long ranks unfurled.

Strong are the hearts which bear along Democracy's advance,

As your dear lad, and my dear lad, go on their way to France.

The word rings out; a million feet tramp forward on the road,

Along that path of sacrifice o'er which their fathers strode.

With eager eyes and cheeks aflame, with cheers on smiling lips,

These fighting men of '17 move onward to their ships.

Nor even love may hold them back, nor halt that stern advance,

As your dear lad, and my dear lad, go on their way to France.