The Book of the Homeless/The Orphans of Flanders


Where is the land that fathered, nourished, poured
The sap of a strong race into your veins,—
Land of wide tilth, of farms and granaries stored,
And old towers chiming over peaceful plains?

It is become a vision, barred away
Like light in cloud, a memory, a belief.
On those lost plains the Glory of yesterday
Builds her dark towers for the bells of Grief.

It is become a splendour-circled name
For all the world. A torch against the skies
Burns from that blood-spot, the unpardoned shame
Of them that conquered: but your homeless eyes

See rather some brown pond by a white wall,
Red cattle crowding in the rutty lane,
Some garden where the hollyhocks were tall
In the Augusts that shall never be again.

There your thoughts cling as the long-thrusting root
Clings in the ground; your orphaned hearts are there.
O mates of sunburnt earth, your love is mute
But strong like thirst and deeper than despair.

You have endured what pity can but grope
To feel; into that darkness enters none.
We have but hands to help: yours is the hope
Whose silent courage rises with the sun.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1943, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 79 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.