The Great War

from A Crown of Amaranth, an electronic edition

Ode to a Young Man Killed in Flanders.

CAN it be true that thou art dead

In the hour of thy youth, in the day of thy strength ?

Must I believe thy soul has fled

Through Heaven's length?

A scholar wast thou, learn'd in lore,

Poet was written in thine eyes;

Thou ne'er vast meant for bloody War

To seize in prize.

Yet when they asked thee, Ho! what dostthou bring?

Thou gav'st thyself,

Thou gav'st thy body, gav'st thy soul;

Thou gav'st thyself, one consecrated whole

To sacrificial torture for thy King.

O lovely youth, slaughtered at Life's new Dawn

In virgin purity thou liest dead,

And slaughtered with thy sons unborn,

With thee unwed.

Sleep on, pure youth, sleep at Earth's soothingbreast.

No king's sarcophagus was e'er so fine

As that poor shallow soldier's grave of thine,

Where all ungarlanded thou tak'st thy rest.

Vengeance thou askest not, but to avenge

Many shall come-ah! many shall be slain

That thy rich sacrifice be not in vain.

Then from the blood spilt shall the

Arts arise Gaining fresh glories by thy sacrifice;

And this shall be requital and revenge.

(The Poetry Review

Notes

January 15th, 1952