I’ve taken my accustomed omnibus
on down to grey, neglected Cenotaph.
No hoof or plate, no sword or gun makes fuss;
this dawn’s a mere vacation-day for staff.
A pall of silence hangs upon the air;
how calm, the business tower; void, the bough
of battleship — and on this solemn square
high festival is kept, all soundless, now.
The unknown heroes — valour shown — are loved
when, seven months from hence, the crowd will mourn
the lost young boys who, on to war, were shoved;
yet, He who died for All receives but scorn.
The sky, intense as sapphire’s lustrous hue,
allows a single cloud to weep for One
who gave it light, decreed it “Blue”;
who lost, that we (untroubled) might be won.
Where’s vict’ry hymn for Christ the Son of God?
Where’s marching, song, and grave remembrance, here?
No wreaths, nor parliamen’try firing squad
for Him — the best of warriors — so near?
O, keep your “easter vigil” for the dead,
you pious patriotic slaves of State;
you men who no more honour your great Head,
who lounge at home and see Him off too late.
Now, let me clear my name of any ills:
this country’s better-made than I could make,
and surely freedom reigns — and Good it wills,
but has it no religion, for God’s sake?
I know we’ve gotten over bunkered cliffs,
and faced the ammunition of the Hun,
but what of “glory”, vainest of the riffs?
If you seek courage, look to “Jesu’s Run”:
The Womb? A beachhead more than Juno’s spray!
The Cross? A greater war than Vimy Ridge!
The Tomb? The foulest trench for God’s long stay.
The Resurrection? Christ has stormed bridge!
Each year I haunt this empty horse-parade
for one or two bright hours of strangest peace
until the crowds — to Sloth, their homage paid —
arrive and shop until their soul’s decease.
Our Patriots may argue: “God is hid!
At least these soldiers showed their love in blood”!
But in this cry and tumult they have slid
to fallacy as dark as Flanders’ mud.
I hope that, one day, through the quietude
of Christians — reveling in more than ease —
the atheistic mobs and multitudes
will see that Love aims farther than “to please”,
and on that high and dreadful Friday, we
who strive — through endless doubt — to call it “Good”,
shall make the world much happier to see
The vanquisher of Death upon That Wood.