The Great War

from A Crown of Amaranth, an electronic edition

"The Crosses."
Belgium 1914-15

O'ER countless mounds on wide grey plain,

The crosses stand against the sky,

For requiem, the sullen roar

Of cannon, as the wind sweeps by.

And he lies there; why do we weep?

God giveth our beloved-sleep.

What did we hope for him we loved?

Life full and fair, success, renown ?

Nay, greater fame can no man win

Than a life laid nobly down

For England's needs; a soldier's death

God giveth him-the Victor's wreath

What matters Time, if he fulfilled

God's purpose in the day of need?

Outweighs a hundred empty years

One glorious hour, one noble deed

We asked full life, O God, of Thee,

And Thou didst give-Eternity!

O'er exiled dead, o'er hearts at home,

The Cross's Shadow fills the land.

'Tis Thine the cause for which they die,

O God! their souls are in Thy Hand.

For Country, right, and loyal word,

We plead their sacrifice, O Lord!

(The Observer