Ah, yes; the French surprise us constantly;
A something in their spirit is so fine!...
I was in Paris when the famous Line
Went through after Verdun, and so could see
How a whole people, putting by its cares,
Came crowding to the well-loved thoroughfares
To view the men—not all—not all, alas!—
Who, in a fateful hour of fear and woe,
Stood as a wall defensive 'gainst the foe,
And said:—They shall not pass!
How surely these had saved her Paris knew—
Heroes who fronting Death turned not aside!
Her heart beat faster as they nearer drew,
And swelled with unimagined love and pride.
Artillery and cavalry went by,—
The plaudits of the people reached the sky!
But for the infantry— At sight of these,
A poignant silence fell upon the crowd:
In reverence the people's heads were bowed,
And they were on their knees.
Ah, yes; the French surprise us constantly!