Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BY THE ALMA RIVER, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Willie, fold your little hands
Last Line: "by the alma river."
Alternate Author Name(s): Mulock, Dinah Maria
Subject(s): Absence; Alma River (russia); Crimean War (1853-1856); Rivers; Russia; War; Separation; Isolation; Soviet Union; Russians

WILLIE, fold your little hands;
Let it drop, that "soldier" toy:
Look where father's picture stands, --
Father, who here kissed his boy
Not two months since, -- father kind,
Who this night may -- Never mind
Mother's sob, my Willie dear;
Call aloud that He may hear
Who is God of battles; say,
"O, keep father safe this day
By the Alma River."

Ask no more, child. Never heed
Either Russ or Frank or Turk,
Right of nations or of creed,
Chance-poised victory's bloody work:
Any flag i' the wind may roll
On thy heights, Sebastopol;
Willie, all to you and me
Is that spot, where'er it be,
Where he stands -- no other word!
Stands -- God sure the child's prayer heard --
By the Alma River.

Willie, listen to the bells
Ringing through the town to-day.
That's for victory. Ah, no knells
For the many swept away, --
Hundreds -- thousands! Let us weep,
We who need not, -- just to keep
Reason steady in my brain
Till the morning comes again,
Till the third dread morning tell
Who they were that fought and fell
By the Alma River.

Come, we'll lay us down, my child,
Poor the bed is, poor and hard;
Yet thy father, far exiled,
Sleeps upon the open sward,
Dreaming of us two at home;
Or beneath the starry dome
Digs out trenches in the dark,
Where he buries -- Willie, mark --
Where he buries those who died
Fighting bravely at his side
By the Alma River.

Willie, Willie, go to sleep,
God will keep us, O my boy;
He will make the dull hours creep
Faster, and send news of joy,
When I need not shrink to meet
Those dread placards in the street,
Which for weeks will ghastly stare
In some eyes -- Child, say thy prayer
Once again; a different one:
Say, "O God, Thy will be done
By the Alma River."

Discover our Poem Explanations and Poet Analyses!

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net