The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

Pro Patria

England, in this great fight to which you go

Because, where Honour calls you, go you must,

Be glad, whatever comes, at least to know

You have your quarrel just.

Peace was your care; before the nations' bar

Her cause you pleaded and her ends you sought;

But not for her sake, being what you are,

Could you be bribed and bought.

Others may spurn the pledge of land to land,

May with the brute sword stain a gallant past;

But by the seal to which you set your hand,

Thank God, You still stand fast!

Forth, then, to front that peril of the deep

With smiling lips and in your eyes the light,

Steadfast and confident, of those who keep

Their storied 'scutcheon bright.

And we, whose burden is to watch and wait, --

High-hearted ever, strong in faith and prayer, --

We ask what offering we may consecrate,

What humble service share.

To steel our souls against the lust of ease;

To bear in silence though our hearts may bleed;

To spend ourselves, and never count the cost,

For others' greater need; --

To go our quiet ways, subdued and sane;

To hush all vulgar clamour of the street;

With level calm to face alike the strain

Of triumph or defeat;

This be our part, for so we serve you best,

So best confirm their prowess and their pride,

Your warrior sons, to whom in this high test

Our fortunes we confide.

August 12, 1914