The Great War

from A Calendar of Verse, an electronic edition

The Smile of Rheims

"The Smile," they called her -- "La Sourire"; and fair --

A sculptured angel on the northern door

Of the Cathedral's west fa├žade -- she wore

Through the long centuries of toil and care

That smile, mysteriously wrought and rare,

As if she saw brave visions evermore --

Kings, and an armored Maid who lilies bore,

And all the glories that had once been there.

How like to thee, her undefeated Land!

Wounded by bursting shells, a little space

Broken she lay beneath her ancient portal;

But lifted from the earth with trembling hand,

Victorious, still glowed upon her face,

Thy smile, heroic France, love-given and immortal!