The Great War

from Herb o' Grace, an electronic edition

No Man's LandS

Not to an angel but a friend

He turned at the day's bitter end.

It was so comforting to feel

Some one was near, to see him kneel

By the deep shell-hole's edge: to know

He was not left to the fierce foe.

This soldier who had eased his head

And staunched the flow where it had bled,

Who made a pillow of his breast

Where the poor tossing head might rest,

Wore a young face he used to know

Yesterday, some time, long ago.

The night's cold it was bitter enough,

But who shall keep the fierce Day off?

And must he lie, be burnt and baked

In the hot sands, with lips unslaked? --

Will no one give him dews and rain?

Lord, send the frozen night again!

But here's the one who comforted!

No angel, but a boy instead,

Slender and young, above him leans:

The sands are changed to tender greens;

He hears the wind in the sycamore

Sing a low song by his mother's door.

Such tender touches to his wound,

Such loving arms to clasp him round,

Until they find him the third day!

The stretcher-bearers heard him say,

Don't leave me, Denis! I am here."

Denis? But Denis died last year!

He will maintain that Denis was

Beside him in his bitter case,

Denis more beautiful and gay

Than in the dear, remembered day:

God sent no angel, but a friend

To save him at the bitter end.