The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition


LIKE a vast forest on some distant plain,

Out in the west, dark, rounded clouds lay low

Upon the sea: o'er them, the sun's broad train—

The glories of the golden afterglow.

Gold, and then crimson: changing, through degrees

Of red and green, to fields of turquoise blue:

Then darker blue, that challenges the seas

To deeper darkness, as the storm-clouds do.

Then, when the stars gleamed faintly, blushing red

At their own eagerness: and as this feast

Of beauty seemed complete, and day was dead,

I turned my face, and looked toward the east.

There I saw that which made me hold my breath;

I'd thought the sunset fair: now met my sight,

In perfect contrast—like the peace of death

After life's glare—the grandeur of the night.

In empty sky, still tinged with wondrous blue,

The full moon hung, displaying royally

Her cold and naked beauty, as she threw

Her path of silver moonbeams on the sea.

God showed me then, that, if we learn to love

The beauties that He sends us in our day,

More lovely yet v/ill night celestial prove—

The perfect calm of passions passed away.

Indian Ocean, November, 1916.