The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition


IF I should chance to fall, and find

A last couch on this soil of France,

Do not seek out with yearning mind

The place, nor give my grave one glance.

The cross would mark a cenotaph;

And careless of the flesh thus laid

In unfamiliar earth, I'd laugh

To know how quickly it decayed.

My spirit, freed, impatient still

At the irrelevant, blind stroke

That stole the servant of its will

With all half-done, with thews unbroke.

Would swiftly reach the land which knew

The love that time had not yet staled.

And haunt the country whence it drew

The lii'c tliat has not sped nor failed.

Perhaps beside some lonely copse

A brook would flow with less of ease,

The brooding wind that sways the tops

Murmur more plaintive in the trees.

And should you, lingering there alone.

Feel on your face, some evening

Its touch, that stranger, rarer grown.

Clothes some sweet, straining, h'alf-spoke thing;

Know that the fate self-fixed must yet

Endure, whether I die or live;

And I still strive to ease the debt

Of kisses I was born to give.

France, May, 1917.