The Great War

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

To Women

Your hearts are lifted up, your hearts

That have foreknown the utter price,

Your hearts burn upward as a flame

Of splendour and of sacrifice.

For you, you too to battle go,

Not with the marching drums and cheers,

But in the watch of solitude

And through the boundless night of fears.

Swift, swifter than those hawks of war,

Those threatening wings that pulse the air,

Far as the vanward ranks are set,

You are gone before them, you are there!

And not a shot comes blind with death,

And not a stab of steel is pressed

Home, but invisibly it tore

And entered first a woman's breast.

Amid the thunder of the guns,

The lightning of the lance and sword,

Your hope, your dread, your throbbing pride,

Your infinite passion is outpoured

From hearts that are as one high heart

Withholding naught from doom and bale,

Burningly offered up -- to bleed,

To bear, to break, but not to fail.

Times, August 20, 1914