Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FATHER O'SHEA WAS HIS REGIMENT'S PRIDE, by AMELIA JOSEPHINE BURR

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First Line: Father o'shea was his regiments pride
Last Line: "and send him a padre like father o'shea!"
Subject(s): Clergy; World War I; Priests; Rabbis; Ministers; Bishops; First World War

Father O'Shea was his regiment's pride.
Sturdy, fine sons of the emerald sod,
Like heroes they fought and like children they died
With their Padre beside them to help them to God.
Four times court-martialed for risking his life
In No Man's Land, seeking his lost where they lay.
"They are my sons as the Church is my wife,
And I never will fail them," said Father O'Shea.

They were called for their turn in the terrible drive,
And the Padre went up with his boys to the town
Where host upon host passed their last night alive --
Ah, the few that came back where the many went down!
He had looked in those simple young hearts to the deep,
He had shriven their souls for the perilous way.
"It's clean wheat for heaven the Berthas will reap
In the battle to-morrow," said Father O'Shea.

But the blood will run hot when it soon may be cold,
And life's lure is stronger with death just ahead.
There were women with eyes that were shallow and bold
In the quarter inclosed, where a narrow gate led
To the chambers a man need not visit by stealth,
That stood open shameless to all who could pay.
The authorities gave them a clean bill of health,
But they never could get one from Father O'Shea.

That night, every Irishman bound for that gate
Stopped at salute -- there was no room to pass
The figure that sat there as steady as fate
With a quizzical glitter of spectacle glass.
He shut for a marker his thumb in the book.
"Is it me that ye want, son?" he glanced up to say.
They all turned abashed from the probe of that look,
And back to his reading went Father O'Shea.

The shadows of sleeplessness circled his eyes
When at morning he heartened his lads for the test,
But through a worse danger he'd guarded his prize,
And in the tired body his heart was at rest.
If I had a son where the red rivers roll,
With every breath of my lips I would pray,
"God save him, God keep him in body and soul --
And send him a Padre like Father O'Shea!"

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