The Great War

from Poems of the Great War, an electronic edition

To England, Our Mother

A Hymn of Loyalty

We are your children, O Mother,

And tried by your testing, but true;

Sealed of your sign and none other;

Soul of the soul that is you;

Yours from the past, for the morrow;

Leal at your travail we bow,

Mother made perfect by sorrow,

With the pain-splendid brow.

Yours was our freedom that blamed you,

Our right that was wind to our hate

Yours, and the swift wrath that named you.

Mother, we love, -- and we wait.

We that you favored or slighted,

Mother, are all of us peers

In our will that your wrong shall be righted,

In our love at the sight of your tears.

Ah, deep in our hearts is the sweetness

Of your fields where as infants we trod,

When our ills were as swallows for fleetness,

In the green-curtained play-grounds of God.

Fond days that are joys mid our weeping

Are set mid your meadows and bowers;

Our loves that lie dead in your keeping

You fondle with grass and with flowers.

Ah, yours was the beauty that blessed us;

The kiss when our troubles were dumb;

The hand that in childhood caressed us --

Oh, Mother! you need us. We come!

Love-gifts from our hell or our heaven

Take, take them and purge with your pain;

All, all our love's best take, and leaven

Our life till 'tis lovely again, --

And true to your height, Mother, tender

And true to the best in us all!

We have pined here alone in your splendor;

But we speed to your pain lest you fall.

Ask: we give! Is it life or the other?

Is it death? Take us whole. We are come

For the sake of our dream of you, Mother,

Whose love we have longed for at home!

Oh, Lord of our fathers before us,

We have turned from the light of Thy word,

We and this Mother who bore us:

Dread God, we were proud: we have erred.

We plead: on ourselves, not our brother,

Lay now the stern weight of Thy rod;

Grind us small with Thy grief; -- but our Mother

Spare, spare her, O God!