The Great War

from Songs & Sonnets for England in War Time, an electronic edition

To "Little" Belgium

I

"There Was War in Heaven" (Rev. xii. 7)

Surely 'twas hell, not heaven, where first was war,

Where first infernal passions woke and stirred --

War, which makes heaven impossible in a word,

And Murder bids her bloody gate unbar!

As well might one, under the Juggernaut car,

And knowing all annihilate shall be,

Babble of life and immortality

As call that "heaven" where hell and hatred are.

Yet there was war in heaven, as on this star,

Yea, even there was War's red flag unfurled,

As if High God would warn a craven world

In heaven itself; worse can befall than war.

II

"Give Peace in Our Time, O Lord!" (Prayer Book)

So runs the ancient prayer, and I who hold

War to be bloody, damnable, abhorred,

Pray: "Not in our time, only, be it Lord,

But for all time may peace this isle enfold!"

Yet rather than our England cease to be

What England is -- Honour's own diadem;

Rather than fail one promised sword to them

(Our word, God's arm, their surest guarantee),

That "little" but loyal race whom, near and far,

A world acclaims for glorious, deathless deed,

Rather than fail GREAT Belgium in her need,

Rather than this, in God's own name, be war!

Daily Chronicle, August 10, 1914