The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition

The New Year*

THE white moon like a queenly ship

Sails down the blue and tropic night.

And all the clouds in homage slip

Into her light.

A quiet veil lies on the earth.

Whose silver glory makes me sad—

Beyond, ah me! War's crashing mirth

Rings wild and mad.

Begone, old year, pass from thy own.

And make thou way for newer life;

Nor grace nor pity will atone

For all thy strife.

I watch thy last few embers die.

And thy bleak ashes—blown around

By strong Avinds that go whirling by—

Sink to the ground.

But rise to sink, and each black flake

Clings as a lambent stain upon

The young year's blossoms as they wake

And then is gone.

Yet wait! some day a greater gale

Of Hope and Faith shall drive all doubt

And sharp despair beyond the pale—

Shall drive without

The soul's infinite sorrow and

Vast shadows of a red, red year,

And undefiled, superbly grand.

Holy and dear

Again the asphodel shall grace

The world's lone, ravaged wilderness;

And Youth, in roaming through that place

Of quietness.

Shall rest beside the peaceful graves

Where wild bees hover in the grass.

Which every warm and soft breeze waves;

And ere he pass

Shall kneel and lift a hymn of praise

For those who fought, without a fear

Or doubting heart to tear, to raise

God's good New Year!

East Africa, January, 1917

Notes

*. The idea of this poem came to me on the last night of the old year as, lying awake long after "lights out," I gazed out at the sky through my tent lattice-window.