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Did you school yourself to absence all his adolescent years,
That, though you be torn with parting, he should never see the tears?
Now his ship has left the offing for the manymouthed sea,
This your guerdon, empty heart, by empty bed to bend the knee?
And if he be but the latest thus to leave
Is a sorrow less for being added to a sorrow's hoard?
Is the mother-pain duller that to-day his brothers stand,
Facing ambuscades of Congo, or alarms from Zululand?
Toil, where blizzards drift the snow like smoke across the plains of death? Faint, where tropic fens at morning steam with fever-laden breath?
Die, that in some distant river's veins the English blood may run
Mississippi, Yangtze, Ganges, Nile, Mackenzie, Amazon?
Ah! you still must wait and suffer in a solitude untold,
While your sisters of the nations call you passive, call you cold
Still must scan the news of sailings, breathless search the slow gazette,
Find the dreadful name... and, later, get
his blithe farewell! And yet
Shall the lonely hearthstone shame the legions who have died
Grudging not the price their country pays for progress and for pride?
Nay; but, England, do not ask us thus to emulate your scars
Until women's tears are reckoned in the budgets of your wars.
Robert Underwood Johnson
YE Spartan mothers, gentle ones,
Fall'n, the flower of English youth,
O what a delicate sacrifice!
They rode to war as if to the hunt,
Proud and spotless warriors they
For ye had cradled heart and hand,
Ah, weeping mothers, now all is o'er,
THE ABSENT SOLDIER SON
LORD, I am weeping. As Thou wilt, O Lord,
Fall to the stranger's lot! Shall the wild bird, That would have pilfered of the ox, this year Disdain the pens and stalls? Shall her blind
That on the fleck and moult of brutish
Had been too happy, sleep in cloth of gold
Whereof each thread is to this beating heart As a peculiar darling? Lo, the flies
Hum o'er him! lo, a feather from the crow Falls in his parted lips! Lo, his dead eyes See not the raven! Lo, the worm, the worm, Creeps from his festering corse? My God! my God!
O Lord, Thou doest well. I am content.
The soiléd tools of labor. Let him wash
Of corporal travail! Lord, if he must die,
MOTHER AND SON
BRIGHTLY for him the future smiled,
He had been a boy, almost a child,
And you saw him young and strong and fair
And you now know he is lying there
Alas, for the step so proud and true
And to come, as they brought him back!
One shining curl from that bright young head,
Is all that you have to keep in his stead
You may claim of his beauty and his youth
It is not much with which to stanch
It is not much with which to dry
Yet he has not lived and died in vain,
He has left a name without a stain
For your tears to wash away.