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

Eliot Crawshay-Williams (1879–1962)

Poems of the Great War: An English Soldier’s Testament

IF I come to die

In this inhuman strife,

I grudge it not if I,

By laying down my life,

Do aught at all to bring

A day of charity,

When pride of lord or king

Unpowerful shall be

To spend the nation’s store,

To spill the nation’s blood;

Whereafter evermore

Humanity’s full flood

Untroubled on shall roll

In a rich tide of peace,

And the world’s wondrous soul

Uncrucified increase.

But if my life be given

Merely that lords and kings

Shall say, “We well have striven,

See where our banner flings

Its folds upon the breeze.

Then (thanks, noble sirs, to you),

See how the lands and seas

Have changed their pristine hue.”

If after I am dead

On goes the same old game,

With monarchs seeing red

And ministers aflame,

And nations drowning deep

In quarrels not their own

And people called to reap

The woes they have not sown,

If all we who are slain

Have died despite our hope,

Only to twist again

The old kaleidoscope,

Why, then, by God! we’re sold,

Cheated, and wronged! Betrayed!

Our youth and lives and gold

Wasted—the homes we’d made

Shattered—in folly blind and spite,

By cowardice of mind,

And little men, and light.

If there be none to build

The temple we have willed,

With our flag there unfurled,

If rainbow none there shine

Across the seas of woe,

If seed of yours and mine

Through this same hell must go,

Then may my soul and those

Of all who died in vain

(Be they of friend or foe)

Rise and come back again

From peace that knows no end,

From faith that knows not doubt,

To haunt and sear and rend

The men that sent us out.

Bir El Mazar, Egypt