Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XVI. Crossed Hands and Closed Eyes
I am Content
By Andrew Macphail (1864–1938)
 
From Hélène Vacaresco’s ‘Le Rhapsode de la Dimbovita’

I HAD a spindle cut from the hazel-tree;
It fell in the water, not far from the mill,
But the water never returned it to me.
 
The soldier said, as he lay a-dying,
‘I am content.        5
Send word to my mother who lives in the town,
And to my beloved who dwells in a hut,
So they may join hands and pray for my soul.’
 
The soldier is dead. His sweetheart and mother
Have joinèd their hands, and prayed for his soul.        10
They diggèd his grave on the field of the battle;
The earth where they laid him was reddened with blood;
And the sun said, as he witnessed the scene,
‘I too am content.’
The flowers have grown on his grave,        15
Each flower contented to blossom.
 
  And when the wind rustled among the tree-tops,
‘The flag in the breeze?’ the soldier exclaimed.
‘No, my boy,’ said the wind, ‘You are dead in the battle,
But the flag flies aloft where your comrades have placed it.’        20
And the soldier replied from the depth of his tomb,
‘I am content.’
 
He heard the swift trampling of shepherds and sheep,
And the soldier demanded, ‘Is this war’s alarm?’
‘No, my boy. You are dead. The warfare is ended.        25
But your country is joyous and free.’
And the soldier replied from the depth of his tomb,
‘I am content.’
 
  Once more, ’twas the laughter of lovers he heard,
And he asked: ‘Are these sounds in remembrance of me?’        30
‘No, no, we think not of others,’ the lovers protested,
‘The spring-time is here, and the earth is in smiles.
The dead must be forgot.’
Then the soldier declared from the depth of his tomb,
‘I am content.’        35
 
 
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