Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
War
By Eloise Robinson
 
I
LAUGH to see them pray
And think God still is in the sky.
The little Christ whose name they say
Is dead. I saw him die.
 
They burned his house and killed his priest,        5
Just as the Bible saith.
We had no milk for little Christ
And so he starved to death.
 
II
There was a Virgin Mary made
To sit in church, all whitely sweet,        10
And hear our prayers. She smiled and played
All day with baby Jesus’ feet.
 
Each day, our faces clean like snow,
Amid the candle-shine and myrrh
We children, standing in a row,        15
With folded hands would sing to her.
 
“O Mary, let thy gentle son
Come down with us today,
And be the blessed Holy One
In all our work and play.        20
 
I wish that we had prayed to her
To keep him safe instead.
She did not know about the war.
Now little Christ is dead.
 
III
The sun-waves floated past the sill
        25
And buzzy, bumping flies.
My Mother lay all pale and still,
With eyes like Mary’s eyes.
 
I promised her I would be brave
And help her, and I tried;        30
And all the things she asked I gave,
And never cried.
 
But at the end all I could do
Was, stop my ears and pray,
And hide my face. I never knew        35
The Christ would come that way.
 
IV
My Mother held me close to her;
I feel her one kiss yet.
How sweet she was, alone and dear,
I never can forget.        40
 
Her face was just like Mary’s face,
As if a light shone through.
I took the Christ Child from that place
And ran. She told me to.
 
V
There were long, dust-gray roads to run,
        45
And sticks that hurt my feet,
And dead fields lying in the sun,
And nothing there to eat.
 
The Baby Jesus never cried,
But with soft little lips and weak        50
Wee hands kept nuzzling at my side
And tried to suck my cheek.
 
VI
We slept beneath a bending tree,
The little Christ and I,
And woke up in the light to see        55
The sun lift up the sky.
 
And all the birds that ever were
Sang to the Christ Child then,—
Sweet thrush and lark and woodpecker,
Gold warbler and brown wren.        60
 
There were no bells for mass
Singing a little tune;
White faces lying in the grass
Were laughing at the moon!
 
VII
They made a little, lonely bed
        65
Where it was cold and dim.
The baby Christ was dead, quite dead.
There was no milk for him.
 
 
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