Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ALTAR STONE, by RICHARD ALEXANDER



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THE ALTAR STONE, by            
First Line: The altar stone we made
Last Line: Who suffer on!
Subject(s): Soldiers; Unknown Soldier


The Altar Stone we made
Not long ago,
Is crumbled and decayed,
No fires glow.
But tho' the flame is quenched,
The garlands dead,
The Altar still is drenched
With blood new shed!

The Wounded Soldier dies
Each day a death!
Yet soundlessly he cries
Below his breath,
As drop by drop still drains
His life away—
But not to martial strains,
Nor wreathed in bay!

His broken body flayed
With ceaseless pain,
His anguished nerves are frayed
With cruel strain—
Forgotten victim of
The Sacrifice—
Sweet Mary, from above
Behold the price!

The Unknown Soldier rests,
His peace secure—
The Dying Soldier jests,
To help endure
The agonizing nights,
And endless days—
For patience still he fights,
For death he prays.

The curls about his brow
Are whitened strands,
He fashions poppies now,
With groping hands.
His sightless eyes are dry,
He does not moan,
As hour on hour creeps by
The Altar Stone.

Oh, blessèd is our dead
Whose death was swift!
—He on the Altar laid
His final gift—
He sleeps in sweet repose,
His pangs are gone—
But, dear God, pity those
Who suffer on!





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