The Greater Love

“Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Forth! Though the din of battle sounds but faintly

O’er English woods and lanes.

Forth! For it thunders loud and still more loudly

On French and Belgian plains.

 

Forth! And though many hundreds fall beside them,

Though cannon thunder loud,

Yet they stand fast, unbroken and undaunted,

Awe-stricken, yet uncowed ‘

 

Forth! For from blood-drenched earth, in purple trenches

Their comrades call them home;

“Fresh are the laurels, bright the crowns immortal,

Therefore, our brethren, come!”

 

Forth! Across yards hail-swept by shrapnel,

While great shells burst above,

They meet the death their brothers found before them

And know the “greater love.”

Forth! And though heads are bowed and eyes are weary,

Only one thing they see:

That flag which sets their brains and pulses bounding

Set their England free!

Forth! And they come from many lands and islands,

Yet all are one in death.

And for one end and for one great tradition

They give their latest breath.

 

Forth! They are heroes, and their lives are precious,

And some of great renown.

Yet each one finds a larger life and fuller

In laying this life down.

 

Oh, God of Battles! Grant them the rest from striving,

Make all their warfare cease!

Give that, which passes all our understanding,

Thine own eternal Peace.

Barbara Garnons Williams

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