The Great War

from Late Songs, an electronic edition

The Message

Dear angel friend, speak to his angel for her;

Tell him a mother prays his angel keep

Her little son in the battle and the horror

When all her prayers are laid away in sleep.

All day her prayers flow like a running river

Under the eyes of Him, mighty and kind.

His angel's prayers shall be as a sweet savour

Lest that her bitter need be out of mind.

Go tell his angel, where Death flies and hovers

Her son, her little son, is under the swords.

Blue are his eyes as pools the June sky covers,

Brown his young head, as brown as any bird's.

Tell him the boy is young and tall for token;

Pluck thou his angel that he speed, alert;

Lest that her trust of eighteen years be broken,

Lest that her precious young son should be hurt.

Tell him he fights amid the gloomy mountains

So slight, so brave, against the terrible Kings.

Say that he thirsts and harsh earth has no fountains,

Say that he falls-oh, pluck his angel's wings!

Shout to his angel if he should be roaming

That her one little son's lost if he fail.

Bid him be quick and splendid at his coming,

Dreadful with beauty so that he prevail.