The Great War

from War, The Liberator and Other Pieces, an electronic edition

The German and the Gael

WHEN they go out to battle

They march with pomp and show,

And all the fruits of victory

Before them as they go.

Because they dream the fight is theirs,

Therefore they will not flee,

But we go darkly out to meet

The fate we cannot see.

Their officers and generals

Have nourished them with lies,

And waved the torch of victory

Before their blinded eyes.

But we go grimly forward,

Believing--come what may,

We shall not tread the grass again

Nor see another day.

Not for the hope of glory,

Nor for desire of loot,

Not for the pride of conquest,

Nor dream of wild pursuit;

But because ancient battles

Stir in our memory,

Hopeless as went our fathers

And stern as they, go we.

Maybe that we shall drive them,

Maybe we fight in vain,

We care not now our fathers

Are born in us again.

When the old voices called us

We heard them and obeyed,

Whether we die or conquer

We have not been afraid.