Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XVII. Bereavement
The Women of France
By Mary Linda Bradley
 
[1914]

WOMEN of France, bring ye the harvest in.
  Willing, you would have helped to reap the grain
Beside your men; now, where they left, begin
  That labour with your glory and your pain.
 
The Man of State has said to you: Complete        5
  The gathering of crops that lie supine.
And fields will smile beneath the children’s feet,
  Who seek their mothers by the wheat and vine.
 
Kneeling to work, where service offers prayer,
  Bind ye the sheaves on wide, deserted farms;        10
And, with your gestures of bereaved despair,
  Load high the grain with tense, lamenting arms.
 
One, in the vineyard—silent, who had sung—
  Plucks the pale grape, and dreams on yonder cloud,
New from the East. What sign has Heav’n out-flung?        15
  White victory-wings, or the dead lover’s shroud?
 
She who has vowed her strength to make a man,
  Unborn as yet, strong to replace his sire,
Gleans in the sun and will not stop to scan
  Over the valley, smoke of foemen’s fire.        20
 
The harvest shall come in, the grapes be prest—
  By one who still may call on Christ to save
Her soldier, and by one whose aching breast
  Fed the cold mouth, dust-clotted in some grave.
 
O faithful to your blessed womanhood!        25
  Bread for another’s child, though yours be stark:
Wine for remembrance of belovèd blood:
  The day for strain and sweat—tears for the dark.
 
So!—until France lay down the votive sword,
  And, having spent her souls to fight and win,        30
She garner peace,—proclaim the vaunted word:
  Women of France have brought the harvest in.
 
 
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