The Great War

from Herb o' Grace, an electronic edition

Wings in the Night

Now in the soft spring midnight

There's rush of wings and whirr,

Birds flying softly, swiftly;

The night's a-flutter, a-stir.

Home by the bitter seas,

They have sped home together.

So glad to be coming home

To the grey hills, the grey weather.

Calling and calling softly

One lights by the window-pane:

The rook, weary with building,

Turns to his sleep again.

Ere ever the moor-hens wake

And the wild duck come in,

The birds are about the house

With a long call and thin.

They have wakened the wood-pigeon

To make her plaintive moan,

The wood-pigeon lamenting

For sorrows not her own.

Oh, they are never birds,

But souls of men on the wind,

Seeking the mother's breast,

The heart that is soft and kind.

Souls of the Irish dead,

Flown from the fields of slaughter,

Home to the mother's arms

Over the wild grey water.