Flower of youth, poems in war time/Joining the Colours

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JOINING THE COLOURS

(West Kents, Dublin, August 1914)

There they go marching all in step so gay!
 Smooth-cheeked and golden, food for shells and guns.
Blithely they go as to a wedding day,
 The mothers' sons.


The drab street stares to see them row on row
 On the high tram-tops, singing like the lark.
Too careless-gay for courage, singing they go
 Into the dark.


With tin whistles, mouth-organs, any noise,
 They pipe the way to glory and the grave;
Foolish and young, the gay and golden boys
 Love cannot save.


High heart! High courage! The poor girls they kissed
 Run with them: they shall kiss no more, alas!
Out of the mist they stepped—into the mist
 Singing they pass.