WE sit here in the promised land
That flows with Freedom's honey and milk:
But 'twas they won it, sword in hand,
Making the nettle danger soft for us as silk.
We welcome back our bravest and our best:
Ah me! not all! some come not with the rest,
Who went forth brave and bright as any here!
I strive to mix some gladness with my strain,
But the sad strings complain,
And will not please the ear.
I sweep them for a Pæan, but they wane
Again and yet again
Into a dirge, and die away, in pain.
In these brave ranks I only see the gaps,
Thinking of dear ones whom the dumb turf wraps,
Dark to the triumph which they died to gain.
Fitlier may others greet the living,
For me the past is unforgiving;
I with uncovered head
Salute the sacred dead,
Who went, and who return not. -- Say not so!
'Tis not the grapes of Canaan that repay,
But the high faith that failed not by the way.
Virtue treads paths that end not in the grave;
No ban of endless night exiles the brave;
And to the saner mind
We rather seem the dead that stayed behind.
Edwards, Mabel C. and Mary Booth, ed. THE FIERY CROSS: An Anthology of War Poems. London: Grant Richards Ltd., 1915.