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Ah, ah, ah! when Gaeta 's taken, what then?

When the fair wicked queen sits no more at her sport

Of the fire-balls of death crashing souls out of men?

When the guns of Cavilli with final re


Have cut the game short?

When Venice and Rome keep their own jubilee,

When your flag takes all heaven for its white, green, and red,

When you have your country from mountain,

to sea,

When King Victor has Italy's crown on

his head,

(And I have my Dead)

What then? Do not mock me. Ah, ring your bells low,

And burn your lights faintly! My country

is there,

Above the star prick'd by the last peak of


My Italy's there, with my brave civic


To disfranchise despair!

Forgive me. Some women bear children in strength,

And bite back the cry of their pain in self-scorn;

But the birth-pangs of nations will wring us at length

Into wail such as this. and we sit on


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When the man-child is born.

Dead! One of them shot by the sea in the east,

And one of them shot in the west by the


Both! both my boys! If in keeping the feast, You want a great song for your Italy free, Let none look at me.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


MOTHER wept, and father sigh'd;

With delight a-glow

Cried the lad, "To-morrow," cried,

"To the pit I go."

Up and down the place he sped,

Greeted old and young,

Far and wide the tidings spread,
Clapp'd his hands and sung.

Came his cronies, some to gaze

Rapt in wonder; some

Free with counsel; some with praise;

Some with envy dumb.

"May he," many a gossip cried,

"Be from peril kept";

Father hid his face and sighed,

Mother turned and wept.

Joseph Skipsey


"Ho, Sailor of the sea!

How's my boy-my boy?" "What's your boy's name, good wife, And in what good ship sail'd he?"

"My boy John

He that went to sea

What care I for the ship, sailor?

My boy's my boy to me.

"You come back from sea,

And not know my John?

I might as well have ask'd some landsman

Yonder down in the town.

There's not an ass in all the parish

But he knows my John.

"How's my boy — my boy?

And unless you let me know

I'll swear you are no sailor,

Blue jacket or no,

Brass buttons or no, sailor,
Anchor or crown or no!

Sure his ship was the Jolly Briton"
"Speak low, woman, speak low!"
“And why should I speak low, sailor,
About my own boy John?

If I was loud as I am proud
I'd sing him over the town!
Why should I speak low, sailor?"
"That good ship went down."

"How's my boy - my boy?
What care I for the ship, sailor?
I was never aboard her.

Be she afloat or be she aground,
Sinking or swimming, I'll be bound,
Her owners can afford her!

I say how's my John?"

"Every man on board went down,

Every man aboard her."

"How's my boy

-my boy?

What care I for the men, sailor?

I'm not their mother.

How's my boy-my boy?

Tell me of him and no other!

How's my boy

my boy?"

Sidney Dobell


O WHEN the half-light weaves
Wild shadows on the floor,

How ghostly come the withered leaves
Stealing about my


I sit and hold my breath,

Lone in the lonely house;

Naught breaks the silence still as death,

Only a creeping mouse.

The patter of leaves, it may be,

But liker patter of feet,
The small feet of my own baby

That never felt the heat.

The small feet of my son,
Cold as the graveyard sod;

My little, dumb, unchristened one
That may not win to God.

"Come in, dear babe," I cry,
Opening the door so wide.
The leaves go stealing softly by;
How dark it is outside!

And though I kneel and pray
Long on the threshold-stone
The little feet press on their way,
And I am ever alone.

Katharine Tynan Hinkson

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