Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MARCH OF THE GHOSTS, by VINCENT GODFREY BURNS



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THE MARCH OF THE GHOSTS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Chattering, clattering, here they come!
Last Line: "let peace prevail through eternity!"
Subject(s): Death; Ghosts; Soldiers; Supernatural; War; Dead, The


Chattering, clattering, here they come!
With a shrieking fife and a funeral drum.
Some are headless and some are blind,
Some drag a shattered limb behind,
Some are carried and some must crawl,
Some have no limbs or face at all,
Some are foolish and some are mad,
Some are gallant—but all are sad!
Clattering, chattering, here they come,
Marking time to the Skeleton's drum!

Uproaring, imploring, these soldier ghosts
Are the broken and bleeding battle-hosts
Of the kings and commanders since time began,
Red grist of the war-mill of conqueror Man,
Dead toys of the war-men's age-long play,
Roman and Teuton and British prey.
Young men, old men—with slow, dull tread
Come the hapless, hopeless, betrayed dead!
Imploring, uproaring, these slaughtered hosts
Are an endless column of marching ghosts!

Bemoaning and groaning a horrible song,
They rattle their bones as they march along,
German and Frenchman, side by side,
Turk and Armenian—all who died,
With no regard to their native place,
With no respect to their flag or race,
Made angry foes at the battle-posts,
They now are brothers in the army of ghosts!
Bemoaning and groaning, the phantom throng
Moves down the ages with sorrowful song!

Enthralling, appalling, one clear voice cried,
"Have you forgotten the hosts who died?
Must you forever our dread ranks swell,
Brand men forever with the scars of hell?
Men of the nations let your sorrows be
Healed with the hand of fraternity;
Sealed with the symbol of the Son of Man
Pledge the peoples to the peaceful plan!"
Appalling, enthralling, comes one last plea,
"Let peace prevail through eternity!"





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