The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition


I WENT and walked by Arras

In the dim uncertain night;

I went and walked by Arras

In the dazzling noonday light;

First, I saw a fairy glamour—

Later, 'twas another sight.

Out by Arras in the night-time.

Star-shells in the starlit sky

Showered like wild silver raindrops

From a fountain scattered high.

Like the silver scales of fishes

In the tideway curving by.

Out by Arras in the night-time

There were glints of red and green

Like the glow of fairy camp-fires

In some hidden high wood seen.

Like the day-dawn of the night-land

Where no man has ever been.

Out by Arras in the day-time

There stretched broad the sun-parched sand

Where together men and torture

Lived with foul death hand and hand,

Horror-stricken, God-forsaken,

There stretched far the war-cursed land.

And upon the stretches barren

Far I saw the thousands lie

That the wind of war had blasted,

Sweeping on without a sigh;

In the hollows, huddled hundreds

Who were not afraid to die.