The Great War

from A Crown of Amaranth, an electronic edition

THE FRONT: 1915.

"It is as if hell were let loose."

--Letter from the Front.

ARE you in hell, my son,

While I am dreaming on this grassy hill,

In the white blossoming

Of England's frail sweet spring ?-

I, who no pain would shun

To shield you from the lightest breath of ill,

My little one.

When, as a child, you fell

And hurt yourself on some unheeded stone,

You raised your tearstained face

That I might kiss the place,

And, kissing, make it well.

Now I am here, on this green hill, alone,

And you-in hell.

Or is it Paradise,

That field where brave men fight with Giant Wrong?

Where death is changed to life

In the heroic strife,

The willing sacrifice

Where Love gives sleep to those who suffer long,

And shuts their eyes.

Nor heaven nor hell is there,

But some dim purgatorial place between,

Where, purified by pain,

The spirit slips its chain,

And, cleaving the bright air,

The young white souls, clear-eyed, august,serene,

Pass to God's care.

(The Spectator, (June 19th, 1915.)