The Great War

from Lest We Forget, an electronic edition

The Call.

I.

There was hush of the human voice, halt of the human tread,

When an emperor's word proclaimed that the God of Love was dead;

Dead in the homes of millions, dead in the temple shrine,

Dead in the soul of nations, dead in yours and mine.

God! you strike too hard to make us fight the foe

We've fought and conquered in the ages long ago.

II.

Broken human hopes, shattered human thought,

As dreamland, hopeland, vanish into naught,

Tearing out the heart, hacking through the soul,

Making hell of human might marching to its goal.

God! we want new words to tell of present wrongs.

We want new music to the sadness of our songs.

III.

There is nothing from the church, nothing from the priest,

Gloom along the west, darkness in the east.

The wisdom of the schools, the glories of the great,

Blotted out by blood, drenched in human hate.

God! they're our defenders standing by the gun,

Dying man by man there to keep what they have won.

IV.

Torn away from lov├Ęd homes to hurl the savage back,

To learn the lust of fight, the joy of the attack;

But when they throw away the sword and bring the banner home,

'Twill be enscrolled with victories won for ages yet to come.

God! for kings and emperors there is no longer room,

The freedom they have scorned is the measure of their doom.

England, stand you steadfast, come along from Wales,

Scotland, send your warriors, Ireland never fails,

Britons all beyond the seas, answer to the call

To fight for freedom, to conquer for us all.