Poem for a Picture


Poem for a Picture is featured in the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, The Old Road to Paradise (1918).
Poem for a Picture
Belgium children watch soldiers pass, 1915
"WHEN I was a child,"
  You shall tell one day,
Children, on these blackened fields
  Gallantly at play,
"All the quiet sky
  Burst in death aflame;
One day, I was young,
  Then . . . The Horror came."

"When I was a child . . ."
  Wind-tossed leaves of war,
Is there childhood still for you,
  Wise in horror-lore,
Who have heard your sisters' screams
  Shattering your play,
Seen your mothers past their dead
  Led to shame away?

Ragged, helpless, maimed,
  Hungry, left alone
Where the smoking roof-beams lie
  By the wrecked hearth-stone,
Still you mime (child-hearts are strong,
  Childhood pain is brief)
Echoes of world-victory,
  World-defeat, world-grief!

Dauntless in your rags,
  Insolent in mirth,
Laughing with young lips that know
  All the griefs of earth,
God, who loves a high heart well,
  Will not let you fail–
You are France, who laughs at Hell–
  France, who shall prevail!

You may also enjoy reading our collection of WWI Poetry.


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Return to the Margaret Widdemer library , or . . . Read the next poem; Swan-Child

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