The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition


ABOVE the broken walls the apple boughs

Are murmurous with bees;

Again the slumbrous breeze

Eddies the snow of drifted chestnut flowers,

And little ruffling winds go silverly

Along the poplar trees.

They never speak of it to me,

My comrades. Awkward--kind

I hear their voices roughen and grow dumb,

Remembering I am blind

But through the dark, I know--I know the spring has come

To France!

What matter I'll not see beneath the wheat

Red poppies burn again;

The gleam of April rain

Along the boulevards; the flower girls

With mignonette and pinks and clematis;

Not see again the Seine

Slip under the silver bridges to Rouen?

Ah, no; nor see

The pale gold smile of buttercups, that glorifies

Gray ruins with bravery

Heartbreaking, valiant--the smile that lights the eyes

Of France!

For through the sightless mercy of my days

White visions come to me--

Beyond the dark I see.

Not this worn, steadfast France, wan, gallant, spent,

With eyes burned haggard by the spirit of the Maid

And Charlotte of Normandy--

But France triumphant, high of heart,

Smiling through throbbing drums

On Rheims restored, Nancy, Alsace, Lorraine,

In that new spring that comes--

The spring we halt and blind and dead bring back again

To France!