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For, though ensnaring ritual dim
With great things charged he shall not hold
But serve, full-harnessed, as of old,
He shall forswear and put away
Unflinching tribute of his vows.
He shall not plead another's act,
The yoke he bore shall press him still,
To find, to fashion, and fulfil
The cleaner life, the sterner code.
Not in the camp his victory lies-
Shall see it in his children's eyes
And from his grandson's lips shall learn!
DIRGE OF DEAD SISTERS
HO recalls the twilight and the ranged tents
(Violet peaks uplifted through the crystal
And the clink of iron teacups and the piteous, noble
And the faces of the Sisters with the dust upon their hair?
(Now and not hereafter, while the breath is in our nostrils,
Now and not hereafter, ere the meaner years go byLet us now remember many honourable women,
Such as bade us turn again when we were like to die.)
Who recalls the morning and the thunder through the foothills
(Tufts of fleecy shrapnel strung along the empty plains?)
And the sun-scarred Red-Cross coaches creeping guarded
to the culvert,
And the faces of the Sisters looking gravely from the trains?
DIRGE OF DEAD SISTERS
(When the days were torment and the nights were clouded terror,
When the Powers of Darkness had dominion on our soul
When we fled consuming through the Seven Hells of fever,
These put out their hands to us and healed and made us whole.)
Who recalls the midnight by the bridge's wrecked abutment
(Autumn rain that rattled like a Maxim on the tin?) And the lightning-dazzled levels and the streaming, straining wagons,
And the faces of the Sisters as they bore the wounded in?
(Till the pain was merciful and stunned us into silence— When each nerve cried out on God that made the mis
When the Body triumphed and the last poor shame departed
These abode our agonies and wiped the sweat away.)
Who recalls the noontide and the funerals through the market
(Blanket-hidden bodies, flagless, followed by the flies?)
And the footsore firing-party, and the dust and stench and staleness,
And the faces of the Sisters and the glory in their eyes?
(Bold behind the battle, in the open camp all-hallowed, Patient, wise, and mirthful in the ringed and reeking town,
These endured unresting till they rested from their labours
Little wasted bodies, ah, so light to lower down!)
Yet their graves are scattered and their names are clean forgotten,
Earth shall not remember, but the Waiting Angel knows
Them that died at Uitvlugt when the plague was on the city
Her that fell at Simon's Town in service on our foes.
Wherefore we they ransomed, while the breath is in our nostrils,
Now and not hereafter, ere the meaner years go by, Praise with love and worship many honourable women, Those that gave their lives for us when we were like to die!
O doubt but ye are the People—your throne is above the King's.
Whoso speaks in your presence must say acceptable things:
Bowing the head in worship, bending the knee in fear— Bringing the word well smoothen-such as a King should hear.
Fenced by your careful fathers, ringed by your leaden seas, Long did ye wake in quiet and long lie down at ease; Till ye said of Strife, 'What is it?' of the Sword, 'It is far from our ken';
Till ye made a sport of your shrunken hosts and a toy of your armed men.
Ye stopped your ears to the warning-ye would neither look nor heed
Ye set your leisure before their toil and your lusts above their need.
Because of your witless learning and your beasts of warren and chase,
Ye grudged your sons to their service and your fields for their camping-place.
Ye forced them glean in the highways the straw for the bricks they brought;