War, the Liberator, and Other Pieces/Three Battles


To the 51st Division

High Wood, July–August 1916

OH gay were we in spirit
In the hours of the night
When we lay in rest by Albert
And waited for the fight;
Gay and gallant were we
On the day that we set forth,
But broken, broken, broken
Is the valour of the North.

The wild warpipes were calling
Our hearts were blithe and free
When we went up the valley
To the death we could not see.
Clear lay the wood before us
In the clear summer weather,
But broken, broken, broken
Are the sons of the heather.

In the cold of the morning,
In the burning of the day,
The thin lines stumbled forward,
The dead and dying lay.
By the unseen death that caught us
By the bullets’ raging hail
Broken, broken, broken
Is the pride of the Gael.

Beaumont-Hamel, November 16th, 1916

BUT the North shall arise
Yet again in its strength;
Blood calling for blood
Shall be feasted at length.
For the dead men that lie
Underneath the hard skies,
For battle, for vengeance
The North shall arise.

In the cold of the morning
A grey mist was drawn
Over the waves
That went up in the dawn,
Went up like the waves
Of the wild Northern sea;
For the North has arisen,
The North has broke free.

Ghosts of the heroes
That died in the wood,
Looked on the killing
And saw it was good.
Far over the hillsides
They saw in their dream
The kilted men charging,
The bayonets gleam.

By the cries we had heard,
By the things we had seen,
By the vengeance we took
In the bloody ravine,
By the men that we slew
In the mud and the rain,
The pride of the North
Has arisen again.


Arras, April 9th

Roeux, April 23rd, 1917

NOT for the day of victory
I mourn I was not there,
The hard fierce rush of slaying men,
The hands up in the air,
But for the torn ranks struggling on
The old brave hopeless way,
The broken charge, the slow retreat,
And I so far away.

And listening to the tale of Roeux
I think I see again
The steady grim despairing ranks,
The courage and the pain,
The bodies of my friends that lie
Unburied in the dew—
Oh! friends of mine, and I not there
To die along with you.