The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition


I LOVED you in Babylon.

Sweet Heart! you were a dancer then

And I watched where your little feet

Just stirred the dust within the market-place.

You passed me slow and down the sunlit street,

I saw the longing in the eyes of men

Who caught the smile which glorified your face.

A moment—little heart!—and you were gone;

But where you passed—you knew it not—

I marked and kissed the spot.

I loved you in royal Rome.

Sweet Heart! you were a vestal there

And I came to offer my gift.

A poor slave with a pigeon dearly bought.

Its feathers purer than snow's whitest drift.

With fevered soul I made my silent prayer

Though I could never touch the bliss I sought.

While holy Vesta's temple was your home.

A feather fell—how should you see?—

Till death it stayed with me.

I love you in London town.

Sweet Heart! you are a princess now

And the blue blood runs in your veins;

While I, alas! am but of common birth

Whom war is splashing with its crimson stains.

A soldier who has taken Honour's vow

To share the grandest task on God's wide earth.

One night you wore red roses in your gown.

A petal dropped—you never guessed—

I hid it in my breast.

So shall I still love on.

Sweet Heart! your soul was close to me

When the world's first dreams were made.

We two were whispering love at God's own side

Or ever sunlight on the mountains played.

And through a wilderness of worlds I see

A time when reunited we shall glide

Unto the Soul of souls, the Perfect One.

Pass, life or lives! you'll understand

When Love gives me your hand.