The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition

The Wayside Burial

THEY'RE bringing in their recent dead—their

recent dead!

I see the shoulder badge: a "Southern crush."

How small he looks—(O damn that singing thrush!)

Not give foot five from boots to battered head!

Give him a kindly burial, my friends,—

S much is due, when some such loyal life ends!

"For Country!" Ay, and so our brave do die:

Comrade unknown, good rest to you!—Good-bye!

They're bringing their recent dead!—No pomp,

no show:

A dingy khaki crowd—his friends, his own.

I, too, would like—(God, how that wind does

moan!)—

To be laid down by friends: it's sweetest so!

A young life, as I take it; just a lad—

(Hc.v cold it blows; and that grey sky, how sad!)—

And yet: "For Country"—so a man should die:

Comrade unknown, good rest to you!—Good-bye!

They're burying their dead!—I wonder now:

A wife?—or mother? Mother it must be—

In some trim home that fronts the English sea.

(A sea-coast country: that the badges show.)

And she?—I sense her grief, I feel her tears!

"This, then, the garnered harvest of my years!"

And he? "For Country, dear, a man must die!"

Comrade unknown, good rest to you!—Good-bye!

It's reeded: he is buried! Comrade, sleep!

A wooden cross at your brave head will stand.

A cross of wood? A Calvary!—The Land

For whose sake you laid down sweet life, will keep

Watch, lad, and ward that none may bring to shame.

That Name for which you died! "What's in a name"?—

England shall answer! Tou will hear Her cry:

" Well done, my own! my son—good rest: Good-

bye!"

B.E.F., France, 4.3.17.