Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FRONT LINE, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

FRONT LINE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Standing on the fire-step
Last Line: And peered into the black.
Subject(s): World War I; First World War

Standing on the fire-step,
Harking into the dark,
The black was filled with figures
His comrade could not mark.
Because it was softly snowing
Because it was Christmastide,
He saw three figures passing
Glittering in their pride.

One rode a cream-white camel,
One was a blackamoor,
One a bearded Persian;
They all rode up to the door.
They all rode up to the stable-door,
Dismounted, and bent the knee.
The door flamed open like a rose,
But more he could not see.

Standing on the fire-step
In softly falling snow,
It came to him -- the carol --
Out of the long ago.
He heard the glorious organ
Fill transept, loft, and nave.
He faintly heard the pulpit words,
"Himself he could not save."

And all the wires in no-man's-land
Seemed thrummed by ghostly thumbs;
There woke then such a harping
As when a hero comes,
As when a hero homeward comes --
And then his thought was back:
He leaned against the parapet
And peered into the black.

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