Thursday, September 29, 2016

IN MEMORY OF AN AMERICAN SOLDIER, a poem

FALLEN IN FRANCE IN THE GLORIOUS YEAR 1918
HE went singing down to death;
     And the high Gods, who heard him,
Gave something of their breath
     To the melodies that stirred him;
Lending some accents to his dying song
That only to abiding things belong.

His boyish heart had laughed
     For joy of life's completeness—
Life had so brimmed the draught
     It held for him with sweetness;
But when, unlooked for, came the suppliant cry
From tortured Lands, he put the full cup by.

Happy whose soul has wings
     And has the strength to spread them!
Happy whose heart still brings
     Its dreams where truth first led them!
Though he give all, his fellow men to save,
He has a tryst with Life, beyond the grave!

Blithely he took the path
     Appointed him by Duty,
Whose face, viewed nearer, hath
     Such deeps undreamed of beauty,—
Love, hope, ambition—he put all aside,
And for the things that do not perish, died.
               *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Soul, was it tragedy to fall like this?
Oh,  lovely,  lovely,  lovely,  courage  is!
     And death itself may be most sweet,
Though the lips thirst, and empty be the cup,
If won in climbing—climbing up—and up,
     To heights where vision and fulfilment meet:
If won at last, by deeds that glorify
Our lowly dust, where 'neath an alien sky,
Their service unforgot,
They sleep who, loving greatly, faltered not,—
     The happy brave, who never knew defeat!
"In Memory of an American Soldier" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The North American Review (June 1919).




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