The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition

To a Choir of Birds

GREEN are the trees, and green the summer


Beneath the sun, the tinest leaf hangs still:

The flowers in languor droop, and tired men pass

All somnolent, while death whines loud and shrill.

O fine, full-throated choir invisible.

Whose sudden burst of rapture fills the ear!

Are ye insensible to mortal fear.

That such a stream of melody ye spill,

While murk of battle drifts on Auber's hill,

And mankind dreams of slaughter? What wild glee

Has filled your throbbing throats with sound,


Its strains are poured from every bush and tree,

And sad hearts swell with hope, and fierce eyes


The world is stark with blood and hate—but ye—

Sing on! Sing on! in careless ecstasy.