Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SOLDIER'S FAREWELL, by CHARLES V. H. ROBERTS

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A SOLDIER'S FAREWELL, by            
First Line: Beloved, farewell! 'tis an ancient tale this / call
Last Line: To flower in immortality.
Subject(s): Farewell; Love - Loss Of; Soldiers; War; Parting

Beloved, farewell! 'Tis an ancient tale this call
To arms—the grappling will of man to War,
The mind to mingle in a sense of massacre,
To reek with blood and clamor for destruction;
The earth a wilderness of steel to cut,
Deface, ensnare, destroy antiquity—
The sanctuaries of the silenced centuries.

It must be so, Beloved. Yet, O my God!
To burn thy suffering away to ashes,
Rather far those Rhenish Huns should lay
Me low in quailing flesh,—the world a heritage
Of woe, and fiercest emphasis of rage
O'erride the greatest cities of heroic
Dawns, and scourge the fields with wildest carnage,
Than the vision of this pain aglitter in thine eyes.

Beloved, weep not—think more of gentle hands
To soothe the ache of centuries into
The intercourse of everlasting love,
Our marriage here in sunset waning—thy sad
Possession's but a memory—until
The holy years of undivided souls
Wake fragrance in the rain of Paradise.

Each dawn bear to thee sweeter strengths, soft fires
Of faith, to curl in incense o'er the shores
Of Time—griefs in angels' voices ending,
Through the flowering fields and singing stars, that pulse
The arteries of God's transcendent mercy.

In thy days of coming solitude, thy hair
Shall weave in silver, thy face empale to Death,
Ending surface things but to receive
Their impress final—touchings unawares,—
Immortal kisses in eternity.

Awake our France! At last thy time has come
To make a fiery trial of thy great strength.
For forty years, thou hast abided in
A dreadful patience for this day, weeping
And waiting—stung beyond commiseration
Thy people's memory—thy vengeance for Sedan.

God stands surety for thee in Heaven,
As the glitter of thine armour mirrors Hell
For those who dare oppose thy legions now.
Show thine imperial strength and sovereign power;
Beneath the stillness of these stars, thy fury
Breathes intense to beckon death in royal honour.
A splendid oneness in thy politics,
There's no alarm and anguish in thy tread,
Friedland and Austerlitz age-long thy witnesses.
Revenge our France! That sting—thy victory hence!

Farewell, farewell, our little cottage in
The sheltering green! Farewell, my wife! thy soul
My rose upon the battle-plain—each wound
A petal on the bleeding stem decreed
To flower in Immortality.

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