The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition


I WENT alone into the fields to-night,

And stood upon the hillside, where the oaks

Have stood and talked of God in the twilight

For centuries, and cracked their ancient jokes

Over our heads; those veterans know more

Of God than we have learned with all our lore.

I pressed my cheek against an oak's rough bark.

And watched the sun drop down behind the hill;

Silence fell on the valley; the last lark

Was hushed; and suddenly the wind was still

A breath of air went rustling through the trees,

And God passed by me in the sunset breeze.

A clock chimed in the valley down below;

Some children shouted; and the blue smoke curled

Out of the cottage chimneys—'twas as though

There could be nothing ugly in the world;

The lights gleamed from the houses in the wood;

And God smiled, for He saw that it was good.

Then, as I laid my head upon the ground.

And waited there for dark night's close embrace,

I heard, far off, a murmuring, rumbling sound.

As if the earth groaned at her own disgrace;

It trembled on the breeze, swelled, and then died;

Again the branches rustled, and God sighed.