The Great War

from Lest We Forget, an electronic edition

One Night.

I walked into a moon of gold last night

Across grey sands she seemed to shine so bright.

Wide, wide the sands until I met the sea,

Cradle of moons, yet searchlights followed me.

I asked the moon if creeping round the Zones

She had seen good, or only poor things' bones.

"Pale faces I have seen, unconscious men

Bereft of struggling horror now and then.

"And sinking ships I see, and floating mines,

And cries I hear, 'O God,' and choking whines.

"But later when the stars shine on the wave

And give more light, I know the dead die brave.

"Passing so quickly from the things that count,

Count to all mortal thoughts, to find the Fount,

"Where angels pour elixir into bowls,

Drink, not for broken hearts, but thirsty souls."

"And what on shore?" I asked, "the great Divide

Where rivers run, and trenches side by side?"

"There," the moon said, "the snow was on the ground

And the frost pinched me as I beamed around.

"Red pools of gore, and ghastly shadows lay

In deep dug corners, so I sank away.

"Let misty cloudlets sweep across my face

To hide the earth, and give me heart of grace.

"Sudden the air seemed filled with eager breath

Of great Adventurers, released from death,

"And shaking blood from out their eyes and hair

Shouting for further knowledge here and there.

"I lighted these across the treacherous Path

To reach the garden of Life's aftermath.

"And as they sped in troops the great guns boomed,

With flashes lightning swift, and dark hordes loomed,

"And phantom shapes of patient warrior bands --

Then more snow fell and shrouded all the lands."

Now pondering from the moon I turned again,

Over the sands, back to our House of Pain.