The Dirge

A poem by John Le Gay Brereton

Out of the pregnant darkness, where from fire
To glimmering fire the watchword leaps,
The dirge floats up from those who build the pyre
High and still higher
That yet shall blaze across the verminous deeps.

Farewell, O brother-heart,
Yet we shall not forget;
Though hand from hand must part,
Your hope is with us yet.
The clank of the swaggerer’s sword
And clink of the grasper’s gold
Are not so loud as the lover’s word
In a thousand echoes rolled.

The lords of the tottering order sit and plot,
With cunning courtesy haggling still:
The insistent chorus cannot be forgot
Its words are shot
Like summoning rockets from the eastern hill.

You, it was you who showed
How Murder made his pact
In busy Greed’s abode,
Preparing for the act.
To save the fatherland
They bade your comrades die,
And full in their path you took your stand
To kill the patriot lie.

Now, lest their flags and bags be lost in flame.
The desperate pair have summoned those
Whose love is moderate and whose life is tame
To quench in shame
The light that streams where wind of warning blows.

The ranks of freedom swell,
The flag of love rolls out:
The efficient ranks of hell
Close up in deadly doubt.
Moulded in battle’s mire,
The bullet found its mark;
A living spirit, winged with fire,
Flares homeward from the dark.

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