Non-combatants (by Evelyn Underhill)

Never of us be said
That we reluctant stood
As sullen children, and refused to dance
To the keen pipe that sounds across the fields of France.
Though shrill the note and wild,
Though hard the steps and slow,
The dancing floor defiled,
The measure full of woe,
And dread
The solemn figure that the dancers tread,
We faltered not. Of us, this word shall not be said.
Never of us be said
We had no war to wage,
Because our womanhood,
Because the weight of age,
Held us in servitude.
None sees us fight,
Yet we in the long night
Battle to give release
To all whom we must send to seek and die for peace.
When they have gone, we in a twilit place
Meet Terror face to face,
And strive
With him, that we may save our fortitude alive.
Theirs be the hard, but ours the lonely bed.
Nought were we spared—of us, this word shall not be said.
Never of us be said
We failed to give Godspeed to our adventurous dead.
Not in self-pitying mood
We saw them go,
When they set forth on those spread wings of pain:
So glad, so young,
As birds whose fairest lays are yet unsung
Dart to the height
And thence pour down their passion of delight,
Their passing into melody was turned.
So were our hearts uplifted from the low,
Our griefs to rapture burned;
And, mounting with the music of that throng,
Cutting a path athwart infinity,
Our puzzled eyes
Achieved the healing skies
To find again
Each wingèd spirit as a speck of song
Embosomed in Thy deep eternity.
Though from our homely fields that feathered joy has fled
We murmur not. Of us, this word shall not be said.

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