To Them That Mourn

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(W.E.G., May 1898)

Lift up your heads: in life, in death,
  God knoweth his head was high.
Quit we the coward's broken breath
  Who watched a strong man die.

If we must say, 'No more his peer
  Cometh; the flag is furled.'
Stand not too near him, lest he hear
  That slander on the world.

The good green earth he loved and trod
  Is still, with many a scar,
Writ in the chronicles of God,
  A giant-bearing star.

He fell: but Britain's banner swings
  Above his sunken crown.
Black death shall have his toll of kings
  Before that cross goes down.

Once more shall move with mighty things
  His house of ancient tale,
Where kings whose hands were kissed of kings
  Went in: and came out pale.

O young ones of a darker day,
  In art's wan colours clad,
Whose very love and hate are grey--
  Whose very sin is sad.

Pass on: one agony long-drawn
  Was merrier than your mirth,
When hand-in-hand came death and dawn,
  And spring was on the earth.

© Gilbert Keith Chesterton