Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, COULD THEY BUT KNOW (NOVEMBER, 1918), by WILL CHAMBERLAIN

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COULD THEY BUT KNOW (NOVEMBER, 1918), by            
First Line: Could they but know -- the countless heroes dead
Last Line: And vision give our holy dead to-day.
Subject(s): Death; Heroism; Honor; Military; Soldiers; Veterans Day; World War I; Dead, The; Heroes; Heroines; First World War

Could they but know—the countless heroes dead
Who sleep along the Marne and 'neath the wave,
Could they but know, who first and since have shed
Their warm, red blood—humanity to save;
Could they but know, as we, the living know,
That what they gave, all selfless and in pain,
To stem the tides of hell and nameless woe
Was not, thank God! a gift in vain:
I think the graves would be a little gay
Could they, the tenants, look upon this day.
Could they but view a ransomed world's delight
From where they slumber 'neath the crosses' line,
Could brush aside the dust that clogs their sight
And see our faces with the tears that shine. ...
Could they who sank in trench and mud and cold,
Sank in the crashing and the hurricane
Of shot and hate-winged gases' belching fold,
Could they but know it was so far from vain—
O God! a quickness on their eyelids lay
And vision give our holy dead to-day.

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