Verse > Anthologies > George Herbert Clarke, ed. > A Treasury of War Poetry
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George Herbert Clarke, ed. (1873–1953).  A Treasury of War Poetry.  1917.
 
108. The Red Cross Spirit Speaks
 
By John Finley
 
 
WHEREVER war, with its red woes,
Or flood, or fire, or famine goes,
    There, too, go I;
If earth in any quarter quakes
Or pestilence its ravage makes,        5
    Thither I fly.
 
I kneel behind the soldier’s trench,
I walk ’mid shambles’ smear and stench,
    The dead I mourn;
I bear the stretcher and I bend        10
O’er Fritz and Pierre and Jack to mend
    What shells have torn.
 
I go wherever men may dare,
I go wherever woman’s care
    And love can live,        15
Wherever strength and skill can bring
Surcease to human suffering,
    Or solace give.
 
I helped upon Haldora’s shore;
With Hospitaller Knights I bore        20
    The first red cross;
I was the Lady of the Lamp;
I saw in Solferino’s camp
    The crimson loss.
 
I am your pennies and your pounds;        25
I am your bodies on their rounds
    Of pain afar;
I am you, doing what you would
If you were only where you could—
    Your avatar.        30
 
The cross which on my arm I wear,
The flag which o’er my breast I bear,
    Is but the sign
Of what you’d sacrifice for him
Who suffers on the hellish rim        35
    Of war’s red line.
 

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