When duty called
Me from my home, my work, where tranquil skies
And smiling hills gave benediction-peace,
I wore rebellion's mantle on my soul.
Why should I thus uproot my feet from loam
That knew my easy tread, and go afar
To heed the cries of those already doomed?
How I am here
Where I, myself, behold the face of War
And feel his cruel arms, and breathe the air
Made foul by his hot breath; here, where I lead
Your sons through strange dark corridors of pain,
And prune their shattered limbs, and ease their shock.
While some but mutter curses, others weep
Like homesick children that they are. Last night
A lad so like my own was brought to me--
So young and fair and suffering, that I prayed
Thad God would grant me healing. Then I knew
He would not live the night. I saw his soul
Naked and bleeding: in its primal need
Craving the chrism of a mother's kiss.
A hardened country doctor! Yet the tears
Rivered my calloused cheeks. I held him close.
As his eyes dimmed, I kissed his ashen brow.
He murmured, "Mom", and passed death's portals
To find, at last, the Holy Grail of Peace.
Now as I stand
In this vast auditorium of death,
War's grim face softened by the lamps of night,
I cast aside the mantle I have worn,
And place about my new-awakened soul
The robe of thankfulness that I can give
My holy gifts--the frankincense and myrrh
Of deep compassion, understanding love--
Illume the way to life, or death, for these
Our valiant sons whose birthright has been sold.
The American Bard