The Great War

from A Calendar of Verse, an electronic edition

Better to Die

Better to die, where gallant men are dying,

Than to live on with them that basely fly;

Better to fall, the soulless Fates defying,

Than unassailed to wander vainly, trying

To turn one's face from an accusing sky!

Days matter not, nor years to the undaunted;

To live is nothing, -- but to nobly live!

The poorest visions of the honor-haunted

Are better worth than pleasure-masks enchanted,

And they win life who life for others give.

The planets in their watchful course behold them --

To live is nothing, -- but to nobly live! --

For though the Earth with mother-hands remold them,

Though Ocean in his billowy arms enfold them,

They are as gods, who life to others give!