A Ballad Of France

A poem by Michael Earls

Ye who heed a nation's call
And speed to arms therefor,
Ye who fear your children's march
To perils of the war,--
Soldiers of the deck and camp
And mothers of our men,
Hearken to a tale of France
And tell it oft again.

* * *

In the east of France by the roads of war,
(God save us evermore from Mars and Thor!}
Up and down the fair land iron armies came,
(Pity, Jesu, all who fell, calling Thy name).

Pleasant all the fields were round every town,
Garden airs went sweetly up, heaven smiled down;
Till under leaden hail with flaming breath,
Graves and ashen harvest were the keep of death.

One little town stood, white on a hill,
Chapel and hostel gates, farms and windmill,
Chapel and countryside met the gunner's path,
Till no blade of kindly grass hid from his wrath.

Lo! When the terrain cleared out of murky air,
When mid the ruins stalked death and despair,
One figure stood erect, bright with day,--
Christ the Crucified, though His Cross was shot away.

Flame and shot tore away all the tender wood,
Yet with arms uplifted Christ His Figure stood;
Out reached the blessing hands, meek bowed the head,
Christ! The saving solace o'er the waste of dead.

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