Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
And Forbid Them Not
By Louise Mary Bowman
Sentry  [at the Front]:  Halt! Who goes there?
A Little Ghost:  It is only I, kind sir—you must let me through!
Sentry:  Little white thing—stop!
  Where do you come from?
  These are the lines of the allied armies.        5
Little Ghost:  Sir, I’m the ghost of a dream
  That the Prussians have murdered.
  Once my robe was so pure, soft, shining;
  Once I lived in a deep old forest;
  Once they fed me with love and with music.        10
  Now I must go to a far new country—
  I and these others, my little white sisters.
  Strange new soldier, give me the pass-word—
  Kind sir, let us through!
Sentry:  God! but this war is a queer war!        15
  Look at ’em—starved white ghosties!—
  Waitin’ for me to pass ’em
  Beyond our lines!
  Me! I’m hard-headed, practical—
  I never had any traffic with dreams.        20
  Why, the world’s turned dippy!
  Halt, I say!
Numberless Little Ghosts  [trying to pass him, wailing softly]:
  We are the ghosts of dreams
  That the Prussians have murdered.
  Now we must go to a far new country.        25
  Strange new soldier, give us the password—
  Kind sir, let us through!
Sentry:  How white and shinin’ their odd wee faces!
  Well then, it’s “Christ”—can ye say it, ghosties?
All the Little Ghosts  [together joyously]:
  Now we can search for our far new country!
  “Christ” is the password the soldier gives us.
  Thank you, thank you, kind sir.
[They flock swiftly past him; their tattered filmy rags blow softly against him, and now and then small skeleton hands reach out and touch him gently.]
Sentry:  Haven’t ye one that would stay for a bit with me,
  Now that I’ve passed the whole lot of ye, ghosties?
  Wouldn’t one stay with a dull lonely fellow        35
  Just for the company?
First Little Ghost:  I will stay with you, strange new soldier,
  Where you guard the walls for the world.
[She grows suddenly tall and very beautiful with a shining robe and crown of stars.]
All the other Little Ghosts  [calling joyfully and softly from far away behind the lines]:
  We are the ghosts of dreams
  That the Prussians have murdered.        40
  Forbid us not, for we have the password—“Christ.”

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