The Great War

from War: an Ode And Other Poems, an electronic edition

To a Son on the Death of his Mother

O HAPPY mother, happy son,

Who--twain in one--

For half a hundred years have grown

Like root and fruit, like branch and stem,

With the same surgent sap in them,--

I, who am blown,


Along the ledges of precipitous Space,

Who for eight lustrums have not known

A mother's face,

Do envy you

That kinship true,

That mother-son embrace,

That sympathy of soul in unity of race.

My body fiercely clings

To life, to star, to tree,

To old material mortal things

I touch, and hear, and see.

I nurse my feeble breath,

Dreading the reckless death

Who sets man's spirit free;--

Dreading the depth and height,

The darkness and the light

Of lonely fathomless infinity.

But you will go unfearingly to die,

Will tear the trammels of your body off,

And like a tawdry tattered garment doff

The earth and sky.

Dreading no limbo desolate and dumb,

For through the darkness will your mother come