The Great War

from The Man Who Saw, an electronic edition

The Kaiser's Dirge

Verses for the obsequies of the Emperor Wilhelm II


ONE boon--'tis the best--

O Earth, we implore !

We bring thee a guest:

Unbar thy door.

O Earth, over whom

His plough drove red,

Deny not a room,

Refuse not a bed.

Dark Mother, whose breast

With his harrow he tore--

Ev'n to this guest

Unbar thy door.


Spectres of woe,

His victims all--


Follow the pall.

Childhood, that wast

In his shambles slain,

Follow the vast

Funereal train.

Youth defiled--

Widowhood wan--

Follow the wild

Cort├Ęge on.


Thundering drums,

Tell it afar!

In peace he comes

Who was Lord of War.

Piercing fife

And clamorous brass--

Call to all life

To see him pass!

For he comes with sound

Of pawing steeds;

With aroma crowned

Of his odorous deeds;

Borne to his bed

With escort due--

A million dead

For his retinue.


Carnage, whose brows

Beetle o'er Hell,

Here is thy spouse,

Cherish him well.


With thy fangs all foam--

O hail thy mate,

O welcome him home.

And thou first of all spies

This earth to o'errun,

Father of Lies,

Receive thy son.


Now, to plumed hearse

And balsam'd shroud,

Bring proud verse,

Worthy the proud:

Garland august

To the catafalque bring,

Rich as the dust

Of the heart of a King.

And in high-reared pride,

On a summit untrod--

Where is nothing beside

But the gaze of God--

From lands hate-riven

Let a cenotaph climb

To the hateless Heaven

That leans o'er Time;

And grave it with none

Of man's words but twain:

Lusitania one--

And one, Louvain.


Fashion his bed

Deep, deep;

Earth o'er his head

Heap, heap:

Load upon load

Let him not lack,

Lest his abode

Vomit him back.

Here are his court,

Empire, and crown:

Rites be short,

Lower him down.

Conquering Spade,

Cover him o'er.

He shall invade

Life no more.