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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Agnes Mary Frances Duclaux (Robinson-Darmesteter) (1857–1944)

Poems of the Great War: Belgium the Bar-lass

THE NIGHT was still. The King sat with the Queen.

She sang. Her maidens spun. A peaceful scene.

Sudden, wild echoes shake the castle wall.

Their foes come crashing through the outer hall.

They rush like thunder down the gallery floor …

… Someone has stolen the bolt that bars the door!

No pin to hold the loops, no stick, no stave,

Nothing! An open door, an open grave!

Then Catherine Bar-lass thrust her naked arm

(A girl’s arm, white as milk, alive and warm)

Right through the loops from which the bolt was gone:

“’Twill hold,” she said, “until they break the bone—

“My King, you have one instant to prepare!”

She said no more, because the thrust was there.

Oft have I heard that tale of Scotland’s King

The Poet, and Kate the Bar-lass. (Men will sing

For aye the deed one moment brings to birth—

Such moments are the ransom of our Earth.)

Brave Belgium, Bar-lass of our western world,

Who, when the treacherous Prussian tyrant hurled

His hordes against our peace, thrust a slight hand,

So firm, to bolt our portals and withstand,

Whatever prove the glory of our affray,

Thine arm, thy heart, thine act have won the day!