Peace Upon Earth

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A Highland Regiment and Other Poems by Ewart Alan Mackintosh
Peace Upon Earth

UNDER the sky of battle, under the arch of the guns,
Where in a mad red torrent the river of fighting runs.
Where the shout of a strong man sounds no more than a broken
groan,
And the heart of a man rejoicing stands up in its strength
alone,
There in the hour of trial ; and when the battle is spent,
And we sit drinking together, laughing and well content.
Deep in my heart I am hearing a little still voice that sings,
" Well, but what will you do when there comes an end of these
things ? "

Laughter, hard drinking and fighting, quarrels of friend and
friend.
The eyes of the men that trust us, of all these there is an end.
No more in the raving barrage in one swift clamorous breath
We shall jest and curse together on the razor-edge of death.
Old days, old ways, old comrades, for ever and ever good-bye !

We shall walk no more in the twisted ways of the trenches, you
and I,
For the nations have heard the tidings, they have sworn that
wars shall cease,
And it's all one damned long Sunday walk down the straight,
flat road of peace.

Yes, we shall be raptured again by the frock-coat's singular
charm,
That goes so well with children and a loving wife on your arm,
Treading a road that is paved with family dinners and teas,
A sensible dull suburban road planted with decorous trees,
Till we come at last to the heaven our peaceable saints have
trod,
Like the sort of church that our fathers built and called it a
house of God,
And a God like a super-bishop in an apron and nice top-hat —
God, you are God of battles. Forbid that we come to that !

God, you are God of soldiers, merry and rough and kind,
Give to your sons an earth and a heaven more to our mind.
Meat and drink for the body, laughter and song for the soul,
And fighting and clean quick death to end and complete the
whole.

Never a hope of heaven, never a fear of hell,
Only the knowledge that you are a soldier, and all is well,
And whether the end be death or a merrier life be given,
We shall have died in the pride of our youth — and that will be
heaven.

On the road to Fricourt, 1916