Poems of Optimism/The Ghosts

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For works with similar titles, see The Ghosts.

There was no wind, and yet the air
   Seemed suddenly astir;
There were no forms, and yet all space
   Seemed thronged with growing hosts.
They came from Where, and from Nowhere,
   Like phantoms as they were;
They came from many a land and place -
   The ghosts, the ghosts, the ghosts.

And some were white, and some were grey,
   And some were red as blood -
Those ghosts of men who met their death
   Upon the field of war.
Against the skies of fading day,
   Like banks of cloud they stood;
And each wraith asked another wraith,
   ‘What were we fighting for?’

One said, ‘I was my mother’s all;
   And she was old and blind.’
Another, ‘Back on earth, my wife
   And week-old baby lie.’
Another, ‘At the bugle’s call,
   I left my bride behind;
Love made so beautiful my life
   I could not bear to die.’

In voices like the winds that moan
   Among pine trees at night,
They whispered long, the newly dead,
   While listening stars came out.
‘We wonder if the cause is known,
   And if the war was right,
That killed us in our prime,’ they said,
   ‘And what it was about.’

They came in throngs that filled all space -
   Those whispering phantom hosts;
They came from many a land and place,
   The ghosts, the ghosts, the ghosts.