The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

The Virgin of Albert

(Notre Dame de Brebières)

Shyly expectant, gazing up at Her,

They linger, Gaul and Briton, side by side:

Death they know well, for daily have they died,

Spending their boyhood ever bravelier;

They wait: here is not priest or chorister,

Birds skirt the stricken tower, terrified;

Desolate, empty, is the Eastertide,

Yet still they wait, watching the Babe and Her.

Broken, the Mother stoops: the brutish foe

Hurled with dull hate his bolts, and down She swayed,

Down, till she saw the toiling swarms below, --

Platoons, guns, transports, endlessly arrayed:

"Women are woe for them! let Me be theirs,

And comfort them, and hearken all their prayers!"