The Great War

from The Man Who Saw, an electronic edition

The Year's Retrospect

WHAT was the lark to the zenith upspringing for?

What was he babbling as summer drew near ?

What were the bell-ringers goldenly ringing for?

What was the heart of all maidenhood singing for ?

Love, love, love, at the gush of the year.

What was the arm of the warrior smiting for ?

What could it be that he held it so dear ?

What were the far-parted nations uniting for ?

What were the thrones and the satrapies fighting for ?

Life, life, life, through the surge of the year.

What are the bride's and the mother's eyes welling for,

Now when the daylight is niggard and drear ?

What is the hush in the desolate dwelling for ?

What is the tolling and what is the knelling for ?

Death, death, death, 'mid the lees of the year.

Love that was baulked of the heaven it was sighing for--

Life that was felled ere a leaf had turned sere--

What have they left that is worthy our dying for ?

Vengeance, which earth and the deep seas are crying for,

Round the last flare of the pyre of the year.