Marching Men: War Verses/Autumn, 1917

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AUTUMN, 1917.

WE know by many a tender token
When Indian-Summer days have come,
By rustling leaves in branches oaken
And by the cricket's sleepy hum.

By aspen leaves no longer shaken,
And by the river's silvered thread,
The oriole's swinging cup forsaken,
Emptied of music overhead.

By long slant lines on field and fallow,
By mellowing portals of the wood,
By silences that seem to hallow
And invite to solitude. . . .

Are there young hearts in France recalling
These dream-filled, blue Canadian days,
When gold and scarlet flames are falling
From beech and maple set ablaze?

Pluck they again the pale, wild aster,
The bending plume of golden-rod?
And do their exiled hearts beat faster
Roaming in thought their native sod?

Dream they of Canada crowned and golden,
Flushed with her Autumn diadem?
In years to come when time is olden,
Canada's dream shall be of them—

Shall be of them who gave for others
The ardour of their radiant years;—
Your name in Canada's heart, my brothers,
Shall be remembered long with tears!

We give you vision back for vision,
Forgetting not the price you paid,
O bearers of the world's decision,
On whom the nations' debt was laid.

No heart can view these highways glowing
With gold transmuted from the clod,
But crowns your glorious manhood, knowing
You gave us back our faith in God.