Margaret’s brother Van was in the army in WWI. He returned home safely,
but this experience brought war close to her thoughts.
Down the long roads of France and up the hills
Their steady feet must go. With senses keen
To the sweet lure of life, they glimpse the scene
Where here a bird its heedless music spills
And there a hedge-row, gay with color, thrills
An aching ecstasy. Yet cold, serene,
Their purpose lies, like ice on fields of green;
Youth’s ardors topped by manhood’s frigid wills.
Down the long roads of tortured France they fare,
Sons on much love, of hopes that glimmered bright.
Much will they give, we know, and greatly dare,
Nor grudge, the utmost boon. Into the fight
With pride and tears we send our nation’s share
Manhood and youth – – to win the world for Right.
New York Herald – August 21, 1918
When they came back across the narrowed seas,
And we behold them truly standing there,
With all the old time grace of eyes and hair
And boyish limbs, will not some terror tease
Our joy and make us murmur, “Who are these?”
Will they not seem, despite our shrewdest care,
Strangers to us whose hearts can never share
The proud remembrance of their victories?
We cannot follow where their thoughts ascend,
To what keen heights of valor or of pain;
We cannot trace the way their dreams may wend
In vain our wish and fruitless what we feign
Of dear companionship. Until the end
They never can be wholly ours again.
Philadelphia Public Ledger – December 3, 19xx
APRIL THE NINETEENTH
(Lexington and Concord – April 19, 1775)
Again the day comes round. Each year
We read a line that notes it, or we hear
Some word which tells in prose or rhyme
The lost events of that far time.
How vague, they seem! How vital then
Were they to those boys and men
Who seized the weapons and west
To stand for freedom.
They face the musket’s aim,
But harder to face the shame
Of a tyrant’s will.
They made their choice for good or ill.
That day they gained a gift we take
With easy acquiescence. For our sake
They braved an awful foe. Our prospering
That seems to us so sweet a thing,
Was bought on that elm-bordered green
At Lexington. At Concord Bridge, the scene
Of that high conflict to remould
The story of the world, the boon we hold
With listless hand was fiercely won –
The right to live free men beneath the sun,
The right to dwell in liberty. Pray
For grateful hearts, remembering this day!
I take my hat off when the flag
Goes behind the fife and drum,
And all the people crowd to see
The soldiers, tramping as they come.
My father says I must salute
“The best of all the flags that fly”,
And so I just take off my hat
And wave it as the flag goes by.
When all is done and peace has come again,
And all the gold and blood and tears are spent,
And through the streets our battle-wearied men
Come marching back as once they proudly went.
Can all of you who stayed perforce behind,
Quite safe from bullet, bayonet, and shell,
Show to these men a clear and guiltless mind,
Or must you cover thoughts you shame to tell?
Can you, then say to them who have not quailed
At what the Hun could do on land or sea,
“In all these months my faith has never failed
Nor ceased to speak of victory to be?”
“I never entertained a thought of dread,
Nor lost my trust in triumph over there,
Nor sighed, nor shrugged, nor shook the hopeless head,
Nor spoke the craven word of black despair?”
Oh, when they ask you can truly say,
With that calm gaze that meets them eye to eye,
“I never feared that Wrong could win the day,
Nor even dreamed that Right could ever die?”
Friend, in that holy hour when peace is here,
Can you, I ask, hold up your blameless head
And know your record clean, your conscience clear,
Or must you shrink from what you once have said?
In war’s hard days our hearts must understand,
And we must learn the lesson, every one,
That he who fears is traitor to his land
And he who doubts is partner to the Hun!
Illustrated in scrap book
October 30, 19xx