The Soldier Speaks

If courage thrives on reeking slaughter,
And he who kills is lord
Of beauty and of loving laughter —
Gird on me a sword!
If death be dearest comrade proven,
If life be coward's mate,
If Nazareth of dreams be woven —
Give me fighter's fate!
. . . . . . .

If God be thrilled by a battle cry,
If He can bless the moaning fight,
If when the trampling charge goes by
God Himself is the leading Knight;
If God laughs when the gun thunders.
If He yells when the bullet sings —
Then my stoic soul but wonders
How great God can do such things!

The white gulls wheeling over the plough,
The sun, the reddening trees —
We being enemies. I and thou,
There is no meaning to these.
There is no flight on the wings of Spring,
No scent in the summer rose;
The roundelays that the blackbirds sing —
There is no meaning in those!

If you must kill me — why the lark,
The hawthorn bud, and the corn?
Why do the stars bedew the dark?
Why is the blossom born?
If I must kill you — why the kiss
Which made you? There is no why!
If it be true we were born for this —
Pitiful Love, Goodbye!
. . . . . .

Not for the God of battles!
For Honour, Freedom and Right,
And saving of gentle Beauty,
We have gone down to fight!
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