The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition

"An Unknown British Soldier'

TIS just a little wooden cross

In lonely grandeur there

That smiles upon a rugged mound

Of weedy, unattended ground,

For he was no man's care.

A broken bayonet marked the spot

And troops would turn aside,

Till loving hands rough cast the wood

And shaped a cross, emblem of blood.

To tell where he had died.

He died unowned, for none could tell

The silent hero's name:

They saw the bloody wounds he bore.

The shattered limbs, but nothing more.

And knew not whence he came.

"An unknown British soldier"—that

Was all that they could say.

'Twas not for them to wet the eye,

Why lives a soldier but to die?

And so they went their way.

But I may pause and probe his heart

Before the shadow fell,

And think that he had still a prayer

For those frail souls who soon would share

The moment black as Hell.

The flowers had bloomed when last I looked.

The grass was freshly mown:

A shapely cross so chastely white

Shone in the dazzling noonday light.

Yet still the same "Unknown."

Unknown! Ah, no! thy name still lives,

For One had seen thee fall

And marked the sacrifice thus made.

The debt of love so nobly paid.

Faithful to Freedom's call.

France, August, 1917.