Page:A treasury of war poetry, British and American poems of the world war, 1914-1919.djvu/78

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78
BELGIUM


Not any more in vengeance or in pardon
 An old wife bargains for a bean that's hers.
You have no word to break: no heart to harden.
 Ride on and prosper. You have lost your spurs.


THE HEROES

IN that Valhalla where the heroes go
A careful sentinel paced to and fro
Before the gate, burnt black with battle smoke,
Whose echoes to the tread of armèd men awoke,
And up the fiery stairs whose steps are spears
Came the pale heroes of the bloodstained years.


There were lean Cæsars from the glory fields
With heart that only to a sword-thrust yields;
And there were Generals decked in pride of rank,
Red scabbard swinging from the weary flank;
And slender youths, who were the sons of kings,
And barons with their sixteen quarterings.
And while the nobles went with haughty air
The courteous sentinel questioned: "Who goes there?"
And as each came, full lustily he cried
His string of titles, ere he passed inside . . . .


And presently there was a little man,
A silent mover in the regal van.
His hand still grasped his rifle, and his eyes
Seemed blinded with the light from Paradise. . . .
His was a humble guise, a modest air—
The sentinel held him sharply: "Who goes there?"


There were no gauds tacked to that simple name,
But every naked blade leapt out like flame,
And every blue-blood warrior bowed his head—
"I am a Belgian," this was all he said.
Men's cheering echoed thro' the battle's Hell.
"Pass in, mon brave," said that wise sentinel.

Brisbane, Queensland.