The Great War

from Poems of the Great War, an electronic edition


The Dreamers: --

Outpost of Europe, watcher of the seas,

Bulwark to part the dark Atlantic tide,

Still in the sunset lost Hesperides

Raise peak on peak, and purple galleys glide,

Kings for their oarsmen, queens for garnishing,

Gleam of their gold that sets the west afire,

Till the night falls, that knows not any thing,

And the new day brings back the old desire.

The Mediterraneans: --

We are your seamen, seamen from the south:

We sought and found you ere the Tyrian sailed,

Steered with glad shouting through the harbormouth,

Parted the woods, and left you half unveiled

Ours, ours, that ventured through the forest-bars,

Saw the brown spate and sweetness of the glen,

And the great breasts domed up against the stars,

Held you and loved you; we were first of men.

The Northmen: --

These were thy clansmen, dark with sun and toil,

These knew the Atlas, these the desert knew,

Builders of homesteads, thirsty for the soil,

Green lands and droughtless, carpeted with dew.

We that came after, racing prow to prow,

Men of the grey lands, narrowing to the pole,

Strangers and fair-haired -- none are strangers now;

We gave our heart's blood; you gave us back a soul.

The Fighting Line: --

Heart's blood of our blood, is the throb so weak,

Ireland, our Ireland, lost beyond the seas?

Thousands of living, nay dead men, rise and speak,

From Flanders on to the ancestral Cyclades.

These are from Ireland, these to Ireland calling,

Look to the sunrise, shaft on shaft unfurled,

Look to the light once more on Valmy falling,

Where France in arms first clarioned the world.