Thursday, March 18, 2010

War's End

the dreams of youth are fragile.

taken in the blink of an eye

while we hold our tongues and shuffle our feet

only saying 'there's nothing I can do.'

 War's End by C.J. Dennis
Greyer and older, still they stand
   Wearier, quieter, still they pray;
Men who had offered their all to a land.
   And their thoughts run back to an olden day
When Youth sailed gallantly, gaily forth --
   Romance for King, and faith to the fore --
To the older, bitterer lands of the north,
   To battle, that men might end all war.

Ageing Diggers, grown wiser now,
   Again they are dreaming before their shrine
Of the long-gone day when they made the vow
   With hearts uplifted, and eyes a-shine.
And thro' their dreaming there drifts to-day
   A newer note and a sad refrain,
As their thoughts return to that bitter fray:
   "Was it all in vain? Was it all in vain?"

Soberer, sterner, still they hear
   Endless thunder of vengeful guns
Echoing out of a long dead year.
   And, "God," they pray, "must these our sons
Learn over again all we'd fain forget?
   Buy over again their need of peace
Live over again worse madness yet?
   Is earth's grim agony never to cease?"

Ageing Diggers before their shrine:
   "Is there never a respite, no release?
We who have suffered look for a sign.
   Is there never a hope for a lasting peace?
We who have known it all before:
   The madness, agony, needless pain --
We who once battled to end all war --
   Was it all in vain? Was it all in vain?"
First published in The Herald, 11 November 1935

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