A Treasury of War Poetry (2nd Series)/St. George's Day


Ypres, 1915.

To fill the gap, to bear the brunt,
   With bayonet and with spade,
Four hundred to a four-mile front,
   Unbacked and undismayed—

What men are these, or what great race,
   From what old shire or town,
That run with such goodwill to face
   Death on a Flemish down?

Let be! they bind a broken line:
   As men die, so die they.
Land of the free! their life was thine,
   It is St. George's Day.

Yet say whose ardour bids them stand
   At bay by yonder bank,
Where a boy's voice and boy's hand
   Close up the quivering rank,
Who under those all-shattering skies
   Plays out his captain's part,
With the last darkness in his eyes
   And Domum in his heart?

Let be, let be! in yonder line
   All names are burned away.
Land of his love! the fame be thine,
   It is St. George's Day.

Henry Newbolt

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