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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 many
mouthed sea, This your guerdon, empty heart, by empty
bed to bend the knee?
And if he be but the latest thus to leave your
dwindling board, Is a sorrow less for being added to a sor
row'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, Mac
kenzie, Amazon ?
still must wait and suffer in a soli
tude untold, While your sisters of the nations, call you passive, call you cold
Still must scan the news of sailings, breath
less 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,
O what a delicate sacrifice!
They rode to war as if to the hunt,
Proud and spotless warriors they
Ah, weeping mothers, now all is o'er,
THE ABSENT SOLDIER SON
LORD, I am weeping. As Thou wilt, O Lord,
spun 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
young That on the fleck and moult of brutish
beasts 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. If Thou have need of him he shall not stay. But as one calleth to a servant, saying "At such a time be with me," so, O Lord, Call him to Thee! O, bid him not in haste Straight whence he standeth. Let him lay aside
The soiléd tools of labor. Let him wash
His hands of blood. Let him array himself Meet for his Lord, pure from the sweat and fume
Of corporal travail! Lord, if he must die, Let him die here. O, take him where Thou
MOTHER AND SON
BRIGHTLY for him the future smiled,
The world was all untried ;
He had been a boy, almost a child,
you saw him young and strong and fair But yesterday depart; And you now know he is lying there
Shot to death through the heart !
Alas, for the step so proud and true
That struck on the war-path's track; Alas, to go, as he went from you,
And to come, as they brought him back!
One shining curl from that bright young bead,
Held sacred in your home,
that are to come.
You may claim of his beauty and his youth
Only this little part –
The wound in a mother's heart!
It is not much with which to dry
The bitter tears that flow;
Yet he has not lived and died in vain,
For proudly you may say
For your tears to wash away.