The Great War

from Herb o' Grace, an electronic edition

Palestine: 1917

How strange if it should fall to you,

To me, our boys should do the deed

The great Crusaders failed to do!

To win Christ's Sepulchre: to bleed,

So the immortal dream come true.

What ghosts now throng the Holy Ground,

With rusted armour, dinted sword,

Listening? The earth shakes with the sound;

The wind brings hither a fierce word:

To arms, to arms, Sons of Mahound!

In many a quiet cloister grey

Cross-legged Crusaders, men of stone,

Quiver and stir the Eastward way,

As they would spring up and be gone

To the Great Day, to the Great Day.

Godfrey and Lion-Heart and all

The splendours of the faithful years

Watch our young sons from the Knights' stall,

Ready to clap hands to their spears

If ill befall, if ill befall.

They say: It is the Child's Crusade

Was talked of in our early Spring.

St. George, St. Denis, to their aid!

That was a boy's voice challenging,

Shrill like a bugle, unafraid!

Most wonderful, if your son, my son,

Should win the Holy Thing at last!

The might of Heathenesse be undone,

The strong towers down, the gate unfast,

Lord Christ come to His own, His own.