Marching Men: War Verses/Children of England Yet to Be

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CHILDREN, children, yet unborn,
Hold your lives in holy trust,
Yours the blossom, theirs the thorn,
Yours the sweetness, theirs the dust;
That your eyes might see the light,
That love fold you safe and warm,
Fared they to a dawnless night,
Bowed they to a bitter storm. . . .

I can see you at your play
In the dewy fields of morn,
Dancing through the scented hay,
And the sheaves of yellow corn;
There are roses on your cheek,
There is laughter in your eyes
As you romp at hide-and-seek
Where the lark and throstle rise
With your merry ways and wise,
Little children yet unborn.

Out across the drifted sands
With your friends, the fairy-folk,
I can see you linking hands—
Ring-a-rosy round the oak.
Where the lark his rapture tells,
Swinging up into the blue,
Merrily you ring the bells
Of the fox-glove tall as you,
Housed with peace among the flowers
In the haunts that once we knew.
In far happier times than ours,
With no thought of battle-smoke,
Or of British hearts that broke.

Out beyond the shimmering waves
Of your blue, encircling sea,
Lie in nameless, foreign graves
They who kept your England free.
When you watch the wheeling stars
On soft, Summer-scented nights,
With no memory that mars,
Only English sounds and sights,
(Only infinite delights!),
Pray that every British heart
In the years that are to be,
Play the honest British part,

Holding life more reverently
For the sacred lives they gave,
And the deathless liberty
They are dying now to save.

Little children, yet unborn,
Take your lives in holy trust,
Yours the roses, theirs the thorn,
Yours the sweetness, theirs the dust,
That love keep you safe and warm,
Bowed they to a bitter storm.