The Old Road to Paradise

by


The Old Road to Paradise is the title poem in her collection which earned the Pulitzer Prize in 1918.
An illustration for the story The Old Road to Paradise by the author Margaret Widdemer
Battle of Menin Road, wounded by side of the road, 1917
An illustration for the story The Old Road to Paradise by the author Margaret Widdemer
Battle of Menin Road, wounded by side of the road, 1917
An illustration for the story The Old Road to Paradise by the author Margaret Widdemer
OURS is a dark Easter-tide,
  And a scarlet Spring,
But high up at Heaven-Gate
  All the saints sing,
Glad for the great companies
  Returning to their King.

Oh, in youth the dawn's a rose,
  Dusk's an amethyst,
All the roads from dusk to dawn
  Gay they wind and twist;
The old road to Paradise
  Easy it is missed!

But out on the wet battlefields,
  Few the roadways wind,
One to grief, one to death
  No road that's kind–
The old road to Paradise
  Plain it is to find!

(Martin in his Colonel's cloak,
  Joan in her mail,
David with his crown and sword–
  None there be that fail–
Down the road to Paradise
  Stand to greet and hail!)

Where the dark's a terror-thing,
  Morn a hope doubt-tossed.
Where the lads lie thinking long
  Out in rain and frost,
There they find their God again,
  Long ago they lost:

Where the night comes cruelly,
  Where the hurt men moan,
Where the crushed forgotten ones
  Whisper prayers alone,
Christ along the battlefields
  Comes to lead His own:

Souls that would have withered soon
  In the hot world's glare,
Blown and gone like shriveled things,
  Dusty on the air,
Rank on rank they follow Him,
  Young and strong and fair!

Ours is a sad Easter-tide,
  And a woeful day,
But high up at Heaven-Gate
  The saints are all gay,
For the old road to Paradise,
  That's a crowded way!

This poem is featured in our collection of World War I Literature and Pulitzer Prize Poetry.


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