The Great War

from Late Songs, an electronic edition

The Nurse

A year before the war God sent

And took her from her tender task,

Now that we know His kind intent

Nor why, nor wherefore, do we ask.

He saw the dreadful, glorious war,

And in what scourged and bitter strait

The young souls thronging from afar

Should fall and faint at Heaven's gate.

Red wounds for to be staunched and healed

And broken things to be made new;

The crushed sheaves of the battlefield,

Drenched with a dark and bitter dew.

Such weariness to put to bed,

Such heaviness to be made glad,

Such younglings to be comforted

Before their mothers came, she had.

Soft hands to make rough pillows smooth,

A passionate kindness for all pain

Were hers-God called her home in ruth

And pity for His broken men.

She plies her lovely business,

Goes hither and thither like a light.

To yours, to mine, she may give ease;

A King's nurse now goes clad in white.