Home > Uncategorized > Beatrice Witte Ravenel: Missing. How many women in how many lands wait beside the desolate hearthstone!

Beatrice Witte Ravenel: Missing. How many women in how many lands wait beside the desolate hearthstone!

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Beatrice Witte Ravenel
Missing

Lord, how can he be dead?
For he stood there just this morn
With the live blood in his cheek
And the live light on his head?
Dost Thou remember, Lord, when he was born,
And all my heart went forth thy praise to seek,
(I, a creator even as Thou,) –
To force Thee to confess
The little, young, heart-breaking loveliness,
Like willow-buds in Spring, upon his brow?
Newest of unfledged things,
All perfect but the wings.
Master, I lit my tender candle-light
Straight at the living fire that rays abroad
From thy dread altar, God!
How should it end in night?

Lord, in my time of trouble, of tearing strife,
Even then I loved thy will, even then I knew
That nothing is so beautiful as life!…
Is not the world’s great woe thine anguish too?
It hath not passed, thine hour,
Again Thou kneelest in the olive-wood.
The lands are drunk with sharp-set lust of power,
The kings are thirsting, and they pour thy blood.
But we, the mothers, we that found thy trace
Down terrible ways, that looked upon thy face
And are not dead – how should we doubt thy grace?

How many women in how many lands –
Almost I weep for them as for mine own –
That wait beside the desolate hearthstone!
Always before the embattled army stands
The horde of women like a phantom wall,
Barring the way with desperate, futile hands.
The first charge tramples them, the first of all!

Dost Thou remember, Lord, the hearts that prayed
As down the shouting village street they swung,
The beautiful fighting-men? The sunlight flung
His keen young face up like an unfleshed blade…
O God, so young!
Lord, hast Thou gone away?
Once more through all the worlds thy touch I seek.
Lord, how can he be dead?
For he stood here just this day
With the live blood in his cheek,
And the live light on his head?
Lord, how can he be dead?

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