Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ENDLESS ARMY, by GRETCHEN OSGOOD WARREN



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THE ENDLESS ARMY, by            
First Line: With folded hands beside the fire
Last Line: Dim regiments of shades march by.
Subject(s): Women And War; World War I; First World War


And the fathers of the children go out to that Endless Army, and come not again.


WITH folded hands beside the fire
Silent she muses. Scarlet flames
Leap from the ashes, then like bloom
Of briefest hour, faint and fade,
While secret, darker, grows the room.

Dream-shielded from the changeful world
Upstairs the children lie asleep.
The gliding moonlight enters in,
Unearthly, reminiscent, still,
And touches sleeping brow and chin—

With magic art of light and shade
A strangeness carves upon their youth.
The moonbeams, lighter than a breath
Dream-stirred, have sculptured deep and pale
A less than life, a more than death.

Yet not alone the moonlight there,
For she who watched the ebbing fire
Leans breathlessly above the bed ...
Her yearning eyes explore each face
To find once more her blesséd dead.

The reverent moonlight lays a veil
On hair grown silver 'neath her ray
And waits ... Outside, the moaning trees
Are hung like harps in branching night,
Swept by the fingers of the breeze.

The wind, the Moon, and Memory ...
Slow tears, and grief, and Life and Death ...
'Mid that great company, asleep
The children lie in marble peace,
Unknowing who the vigil keep.

And always down the quiet road
A soundless tramp of ghostly feet ...
Remembered, half-dreamt battle cry ...
While past the house, beneath the trees
Dim regiments of shades march by.





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