MEN OF VERDUN
There are five men in the moonlight
That by their shadows stand;
Three hobble humped on crutches,
And two lack each a hand.
Frogs somewhere near the roadside
Chorus their chant absorbed:
But a hush breathes out of the dream-light
That far in heaven is orbed.
It is gentle as sleep falling
And wide as thought can span,
The ancient peace and wonder
That brims in the heart of man.
Beyond the hills it shines now
On no peace but the dead,
On reek of trenches thunder-shocked,
Tense fury of wills in wrestle locked,
A chaos of crumbled red!
The five men in the moonlight
Chat, joke, or gaze apart.
They talk of days and comrades,
But each one hides his heart.
They wear clean cap and tunic,
As when they went to war;
A gleam comes where the medal's pinned:
But they will fight no more.
The shadows, maimed and antic,
Gesture and shape distort,
Like mockery of a demon dumb
Out of the hell-din whence they come
That dogs them for his sport:
But as if dead men were risen
And stood before me there
With a terrible fame about them blown
In beams of spectral air,
I see them, men transfigured
As in a dream, dilate
Fabulous with the Titan-throb
Of battling Europe's fate;
For history's hushed before them,
And legend flames afresh,--
Verdun, the name of thunder,
Is written on their flesh.
By: Laurence Bingon
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted:
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the starts that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.
By: Laurence Binyon
IIn a vision of the night I saw them,
In the battles of the night.
'Mid the roar and the reeling
shadows of blood
They were moving like light,
Light of the reason, guarded
Tense within the will,
As a lantern under a tossing of
Burns steady and still.
With scrutiny calm, and with fingers
Patient as swift
They bind up the hurts and the
Untired and defenceless; around
With shrieks in its breath
Bursts stark from the terrible
But they take not their courage
That blinds the hot being;
They take not their pity from
Tender, yet seeing;
Feeling, yet nerved to the
Keen, like steel;
Yet the wounds of the mind they
are stricken with,
Who shall heal?
They endure to have eyes of the
In hell, and not swerve
For an hour from the faith that they
The light that they serve.
Man true to man, to his kindness
That overflows all,
To his spirit erect in the thunder
When all his forts fall, --
This light, in the tiger-mad welter,
They serve and they save.
What song shall be worthy to sing
of them --
Braver than the brave?
By: Laurence Binyon