The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

Christ in Flanders

WE had forgotten You, or very nearly--

You did not seem to touch us very nearly--

Of course we thought about You now and then;

Especially in any time of trouble--

We knew that You were good in time of trouble--

But we are very ordinary men.

And there were always other things to think of--

There's lots of things a man has got to think of--

His work, his home, his pleasure, and his wife;

And so we only thought of You on Sunday--

Sometimes, perhaps, not even on a Sunday--

Because there's always lots to fill one's life.

And, all the while, in the street or lane or byway--

In country lane, in city street, or byway--

You walked among us, and we did not see.

Your feet were bleeding as You walked our pavements--

How did we miss Your Footprints on our pavements--

Can there be other folk as blind as we?

Now we remember; over here in Flanders

(It isn't strange to think of You in Flanders)--

This hideous warfare seems to make things clear.

We never thought about You much in England--

But now that we are far away from England--

We have no doubts, we know that You are here.

You helped us pass the jest along the trenches--

Where, in cold blood, we waited in the trenches--

You touched its ribaldry and made it fine.

You stood beside us in our pain and weakness--

We're glad to think You understand our weakness--

Somehow it seems to help us not to whine.

We think about You kneeling in the Garden--

Ah! God! the agony of that dread Garden--

We know You prayed for us upon the Cross.

If anything could make us glad to bear it--

'Twould he the knowledge that You willed to bear it--

Pain--death--the uttermost of human loss.

Ihouh we forgot You--You will not forget us--

We feel so sure that You will not forget us--

But stay with us until this dream is past.

And so we ask for courage, strength, and pardon--

Especially, I think, we ask for pardon--

And that You'll stand beside us to the last.