The Great War

from A Crown of Amaranth, an electronic edition

Summer in England.

ON London fell a clearer light;

Caressing pencils of the sun

Defined the distances, the white

Houses, transfigured one by one,

The " long, unlovely street " impearled.

O what a sky has walked the world!

Most happy year! And out of town

The hay was prosperous, and the wheat;

The silken harvest climbed the down;

Moon after moon was heavenly-sweet,

Stroking the bread within the sheaves,

Looking, 'twixt apples and their leaves.

And while this rose made round her cup,

The armies died convulsed; and when

This chaste young silver sun went up

Softly, ten thousand shattered men,

One wet corruption, heaped the plain,

After a league-long throb of pain.

Flower following tender flower; and birds,

And berries; and benignant skies

Made thrive the serried flocks and herds-

Yonder are men shot through the eyes,

And children crushed. Love, hide thy face

From man's unpardonable race.

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Who said "No man hath greater love than this,

To die to serve his friend ? "

So these have loved us all unto the end.

Chide thou no more, O thou unsacrificed!

The soldier dying dies upon a kiss,

The very kiss of Christ.