The Comrade (Coates)

For works with similar titles, see The Comrade.

The Comrade.

(Among the soldiers of France there is a widespread and touching belief that at Nancy, Soissons, Ypres and in the Argonne a Form in White has passed unharmed through shot and shell, comforting the wounded and the dying.)

Who is this in raiment white
Walks across the field,
Midst the terrors of the fight
Bears nor sword nor shield,
Stays the dying to defend,
Where can come no other friend.

Who is this of whom they tell,
Beautiful and grave,
As from Heaven, to this Hell
Come the hurt to save?—
Bearing them with tenderness,
Where can follow no distress?

Who is this that lifts them up
As they earthward sink,
Bids them, thirsting, from his cup
Euthanasia drink,
Opens to their closing eyes
Healing visions of the skies?   * * *

Is it the supreme Desire,
Answering their need?—
Is it Faith that doth aspire,
Lifting them, indeed,
Up, beyond all human strife,
To its own immortal life?

Is it Hope, the deathless one,
To their broken hearts
Whispering of joys begun,
E'en as life departs;
Hope, the gift of memories
Garnered at the mother's knees?

Is it, Friend and Healer, Thou—
Vision pure and pale—
Whom men, sorrowing, look on now,
As they saw the Grail?—
Is it Thou their yearnings greet,
Unimaginably sweet?

On the blood-stained fields of France
What the dying view
Who can tell? All, all, perchance!
But this much is true:
There wherever pain has trod
Comes the pitying love of God!


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925.

The author died in 1927, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also 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.