Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

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 Volume 1.16 This View’s Poetry May 27, 2002 


Alfred Joyce Kilmer — Catholic convert, husband and father, writer for the New York Times Sunday Magazine and Book Review, and numerous other publications — is perhaps most famous as the author of Trees. Soon after the USA entered World War I, he enlisted in the Army, eventually to serve in the “Fighting Sixty-ninth”. Sgt. Kilmer was killed in action, in France, July 30, 1918. He wrote these three poems, among others, while serving there.


    The Peacemaker    
         
   

Upon his will he binds a radiant chain,
For Freedom’s sake he is no longer free.
It is his task, the slave of Liberty,
With his own blood to wipe away a stain.
That pain may cease, he yields his flesh to pain.
To banish war, he must a warrior be.
He dwells in Night, eternal Dawn to see,
And gladly dies, abundant life to gain.

What matters Death, if Freedom be not dead?
No flags are fair, if Freedom’s flag be furled.
Who fights for Freedom, goes with joyful tread
To meet the fires of Hell against him hurled,
And has for captain Him whose thorn-wreathed head
Smiles from the Cross upon a conquered world.

   
         
    Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)    
    Poems, Essays and Letters (1918)
Volume One: Memoir and Poems pp. 108
ed. Robert Cortes Holliday

   

    Rouge Bouquet    
         
   

In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing:
“Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Danger’s past;
Now at last,
Go to sleep!”

There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael’s sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael’s blood runs.
And up to Heaven’s doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet,
A delicate cloud of buglenotes
That softly say:
“Farewell!
Farewell!
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.
Farewell!”

   
         
    Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)    
   

Poems, Essays and Letters (1918)
Volume One: Memoir and Poems pp. 105ff
ed. Robert Cortes Holliday

   

    Prayer of a Soldier in France    
         
   

My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.

So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

   
         
    Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)    
    Poems, Essays and Letters (1918)
Volume One: Memoir and Poems pp. 109
ed. Robert Cortes Holliday

   

    Triad    
         
    From the Silence of Time, Time’s Silence borrow.
In the heart of To-day is the word of To-morrow.
The Builders of Joy are the Children of Sorrow.
   
         
    William Sharp (1856-1902)    
    Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse p. 400    



 Volume 1.16 This View’s Poetry May 27, 2002 





The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”