Open main menu

Canadian Poems of the Great War/Maitland, George H.

(Redirected from The Boy Who Lies Out Yonder)
Municipal Editor of the Toronto Star. Born in Stratford, Ontario, February 25th, 1881, son of George F. and Mary A. Maitland, the latter the author of verses familiar to magazine readers of some decades ago. Won the $50 prize in Victory Loan Contest.

THE BOY WHO LIES OUT YONDER

THESE are the fathers and mothers who wept when the whistles blew,
Visioning over and visioning over a little lad they knew;
Visioning over and visioning over, and seeing once and again
The little lad they had cherished march off—a man—with men;
Broken of heart, undone, visioning now in their tears
An empty chair . . . and the lonely, empty years.


What shall repay the service which nought on earth can repay?
How shall a nation render the thanks in its heart this day?
Whistle and horn and clamour, trumpet and shout and song—
But the boy who lies out yonder . . . he will sleep long.
And the father and mother who lost him steal up to an empty place,
The mother with lips a-tremble, the man with his stony face—
HIS room, she had kept it ready to welcome him back again,
Since the little lad they had cherished marched off—a man—with men.


What shall requite their service which nought on earth can requite?
Who shall appraise or name it, who measure its worth aright?
Out from the noise and clamour, now while the siren blows,
What shall a nation whisper, knowing the debt it owes?
When the father and mother who lost him steal up to his room to weep,
What word shall a nation send them, to lighten the watch they keep?
For not in whistles or trumpets, and not in the tunes they play,
Shall the broken heart of a mother find comfort and strength this day.


Not in the horns and trumpets—but e'en as the mourners kneel,
Thus shall a nation whisper: 'Know ye the pride we feel.
Ye who have paid our ransom, paid it in blood and tears,
Your sons have bought us freedom. Look! They have cleansed the years.
And the thing they have bought us is finer than palace or jewels or gold,
The right of the weak to flourish as the strong have flourished of old.
Ye—ye have sown in your tears that a world may reap in its joy,
Ye also have cleansed the years . . . with the life of your boy.'


These are the fathers and mothers who wept when the whistles blew,
Visioning over and visioning over a little lad they knew:
Visioning over and visioning over, and seeing once and again
The little lad they had cherished march off—a man—with men.
They have bought freedom—theirs are the holiest tears—
They and that sleeping boy, who have cleansed the years.


The Toronto Star Office,
Monday, November 11, 1918.