(“Fidelis ad Extremum”) O golden Isle set in the deep blue Ocean, With purple shadows flitting o’er thy crest, I kneel to thee in reverent devotion Of some who on thy bosom lie at rest! Seldom they enter into song or story; Poets praise the soldier’s might and deeds of War, But few exalt the Sisters, and the glory Of women dead beneath a distant star. No armies threatened in that lonely station, They fought not fire or steel or ruthless foe, But heat and hunger, sickness and privation, And Winter’s deathly chill and blinding snow. Till mortal frailty could endure no longer Disease’s ravages and climate’s power, In body weak, but spirit ever stronger, Courageously they stayed to meet their hour. No blazing tribute through the wide world flying, No rich reward of sacrifice they craved, The only meed of their victorious dying Lives in the hearts of humble men they saved. Who when in light the Final Dawn is breaking, Still faithful, though the world’s regard may cease, Will honour, splendid in triumphant waking, The souls of women, lonely here at peace. O golden Isle with purple shadows falling Across thy rocky shore and sapphire sea, I shall not picture these without recalling The Sisters sleeping on the heart of thee! H.M.H.S. “Britannic,” Mudros, October 1916.
Featured in our collection of World War I Literature
If you enjoyed Brittain's poem, you may be interested in the war poems by Wilfred Owen.