Monday, September 25, 2017

SERBIA, a poem

WHEN the heroic deeds that mark our time
     Shall, in far days to come, recorded be,
     Men, much forgetting, shall remember thee,
Thou central martyr of the Monster-Crime,
Who kept thy soul clear of the ooze and slime—
     The quicksands of deceit and perjury—
     A living thing, unconquered still and free,
Through superhuman sacrifice sublime.

O Serbia! amid thy ruins great,
Love is immortal;  there's an end to hate,
     Always there will be dawn, though dark the night.
Look up, thou tragic Glory! Even now,
The thorny round that binds thy bleeding brow
     Is as a crown irradiating light!
"Serbia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in A Treasury of War Poetry (1917).

Sunday, September 24, 2017

CAPTAIN GUYNEMER, a poem

Captain Georges Guynemer
(1894-1917)
WHAT high adventure, in what world afar,
Follows to-day,
Mid ampler air,
Heroic Guynemer?
What star,
Of all the myriad planets of our night,
Is by his glowing presence made more bright
Who chose the Dangerous way,
Scorning, while brave men died, ignobly safe to stay?

Into the unknown Vast,
Where few could follow him, he passed,—
On to the gate—the shadowy gate—
Of the Forbidden,
Seeking the knowledge jealous Fate
Had still so carefully from mortals hidden.
With vision falcon-keen,
His eyes beheld what others had not seen,
And his soul, with as clear a gaze,
Pierced through each clouded maze
Straight to the burning heart of things, and knew
The lying from the true.

A dweller in Immensity,
Of naught afraid,
He saw the havoc Tyranny had made,—
Saw the relentless tide of War's advance,
And high of heart and free,
Vowed his young life to Liberty—
And France!

O Compi├Ęgne! be proud of him—thy son,—
The greatest of the eagle brood,—
Who with intrepid soul the foe withstood,
And rests, his victories won!
Mourn not uncomforted, but rather say:—
His wings were broken, but he led the way
Where myriad stronger wings shall follow;
For Wrong shall not hold lasting sway,
To break the World's heart, nor betray
With cruel pledges hollow!

To us the battle draweth near.
We dedicate ourselves again,
Remembering, O Compi├Ęgne!
Thy Charioteer—
Thy peerless one, who died to make men free,
And in Man's grateful heart shall live immortally!

"Captain Guynemer" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in A Treasury of War Poetry (1917).

SEDAN, a poem

(The battle of Sedan, ending Sept. 2, 1870, in an overwhelming victory for the Prussians and the capture of the Emperor Napoleon III, was the decisive battle of the Franco-Prussian War.)
HOW terrible the victory
     That undermines the soul!
How better, better far to fail—
     To falter from the goal,
And with a brave acceptance meet
The triumph of a high defeat!

France!—generous Land beloved of all!
     More glorious made through pain,
Sedan beheld thy loss,—not fall,
     And taught how men may gain
Conquests that base desires impart,
Corrupt the will, and rob the heart!
"Sedan" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi), 2 September 1917.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

THE COMRADE, a poem

(Among the soldiers of France there is a widespread and touching belief that at Nancy, Soissons, Ypres and in the Argonne a Form in White has passed unharmed through shot and shell, comforting the wounded and the dying.)
WHO is this in raiment white
     Walks across the field,
Midst the terrors of the fight
     Bears nor sword nor shield,
Stays the dying to defend,
Where can come no other friend.

Who is this of whom they tell,
     Beautiful and grave,
As from Heaven, to this Hell
     Come the hurt to save?—
Bearing them with tenderness,
Where can follow no distress?

Who is this that lifts them up
     As they earthward sink,
Bids them, thirsting, from his cup
     Euthanasia drink,
Opens to their closing eyes
Healing visions of the skies?  * * *

Is it the supreme Desire,
     Answering their need?—
Is it Faith that doth aspire,
     Lifting them, indeed,
Up, beyond all human strife,
To its own immortal life?

Is it Hope, the deathless one,
     To their broken hearts
Whispering of joys begun,
     E'en as life departs;
Hope, the gift of memories
Garnered at the mother's knees?

Is it, Friend and Healer, Thou—
     Vision pure and pale—
Whom men, sorrowing, look on now,
     As they saw the Grail?—
Is it Thou their yearnings greet,
Unimaginably sweet?

On the blood-stained fields of France
     What the dying view
Who can tell? All, all, perchance!
     But this much is true:
There wherever pain has trod
Comes the pitying love of God!
"The Comrade" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Washington Herald (Washington, DC), 14 June 1918.

FOR FRANCE, a poem

SHE had been stricken, sorely, ere this came;
     And now they wrote that he, her boy, was dead—
     Her only one! Through blinding tears she read,
Trying to see what followed his dear name.
     He had died "gloriously," the letter said,
"Guarding the Tricolor from touch of shame
Where raged the battle furious and wild."
     Catching her breath, she stayed despair’s advance.
She was a mother; but, besides—a child
                      Of France!

And after, though remembrance of past years
     Dulled not to her fond vision nor grew dim;
     Though every slightest incident of him
Was treasured in her breast, she shed no tears.
     Her cup was full now, even to the brim,
And for herself she knew nor hopes nor fears.
So, toiling patiently, with noble pride
     And lifted head she met each pitying glance,
She was the mother of a son who died—
                     For France!
"For France" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Patriotic Pieces from the Great War (1918).

Friday, September 22, 2017

A SOLDIER, a poem

DEAR God, I raised my boy to be a soldier;
     I tried to make him strong of will and true;
I told him many a tale of deeds heroic—
     The noblest and the sweetest tales I knew.

In thought, he shared the charge at Balaclava,
     With the Swiss Guard, o'ermastered coward Death,
With Gordon all renounced, with Scott and Peary
     Breathed in his ardent youth heroic breath.

A little lad, he wept for wounded Sidney,
     For Bayard, sans reproche, who knew no fears,
Yet, hurt himself, if one but said,—"My Soldier!"—
     Straightaway he smiled and swallowed down his tears.

I taught him that the brave are full of mercy;
     That gentleness and love to strength belong;
That honour is the only High adventure,
     And goodness the one everlasting song!

And so I raised my boy to be a Soldier:
     A patriot soldier, brave, devoted, free!
And now, and now,—with grateful trust, O Father!
     I give him to my Country and to Thee!
"A Soldier" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (20 July 1918).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

AS THEY LEAVE US, a poem

After the cheers had ceased. Photo by Frank W. Buhler.
BID farewell with pride,
     Show no trace of sorrow;
Smile into their eyes,
      Though your courage borrow;
There will be another day,
     And a time
          To pay!

Gallant is their look,
     But their hearts are tender.
Cry aloud your faith!
     Loyal tribute render!
For they go—the young, the brave—
     Liberty
          To save!

Tell them not of fear;
     Whisper not of sadness;
Overbrim to-day
     With heroic gladness;
Let your love, remembered, shine
     As a light
          Benign!

Simple is their trust,
     But 'tis deep as ocean;
Lofty is their hope,
     Selfless their devotion;
And they go—the young, the brave—
     Liberty
          To save!

Hark!  The bugles call!
     Wave your banners!—cheer them!
Happy, let them dream
     All that's valiant near them!
They will know, when far from you,
     That the dream
          Was true!
"As they Leave Us" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Patriotic Pieces from the Great War (1918).