Bells are like fierce-browed prelates who proclaim
That “if our Lord returned He’d fight for us.”
So let our bells and bishops do the same,
Shoulder to shoulder with the motor-bus.
Young Croesus went to pay his call
On Colonel Sawbones, Caxton Hall:
And, though his wound was healed and mended,
He hoped he’d get his leave extended.
The waiting-room was dark and bare.
He eyed a neat-framed notice there
Above the fireplace hung to show
Disabled heroes where to go
For arms and legs; with scale of price,
And words of dignified advice
How officers could get them free.
Elbow or shoulder, hip or knee,—
Two arms, two legs, though all were lost,
They’d be restored him free of cost.
Then a Girl-Guide looked in to say,
“Will Captain Croesus come this way?”
When I’m among a blaze of lights,
With tawdry music and cigars
And women dawdling through delights,
And officers at cocktail bars,—
Sometimes I think of garden nights
And elm trees nodding at the stars.
I dream of a small firelit room
With yellow candles burning straight,
And glowing pictures in the gloom,
And kindly books that hold me late.
Of things like these I love to think
When I can never be alone:
Then some one says, “Another drink?”—
And turns my living heart to stone.
To these I turn, in these I trust;
Brother Lead and Sister Steel.
To his blind power I make appeal;
I guard her beauty clean from rust.
He spins and burns and loves the air,
And splits a skull to win my praise;
But up the nobly marching days
She glitters naked, cold and fair.
Sweet Sister, grant your soldier this;
That in good fury he may feel
The body where he sets his heel
Quail from your downward darting kiss.
He primmed his loose red mouth, and leaned his head
Against a sorrowing angel’s breast, and said:
“You’d think so much bereavement would have made
Unusual big demands upon my trade.
The War comes cruel hard on some poor folk—
Unless the fighting stops I’ll soon be broke.”
He eyed the Cemetery across the road—
“There’s scores of bodies out abroad, this while,
That should be here by rights; they little know’d
How they’d get buried in such wretched style.”
I told him, with a sympathetic grin,
That Germans boil dead soldiers down for fat;
And he was horrified. “What shameful sin!
O sir, that Christian men should come to that!”