Katharine Tynan

(23 January 1861 - 2 Apirl 1931 / 23 January 1861 – 2 April 1931)

No Man's Land - Poem by Katharine Tynan

Not to an angel but a friend
He turned at the day's bitter end.
It was so comforting to feel
Some one was near, to see him kneel
By the deep shell-hole's edge: to know
He was not left to the fierce foe.

This soldier who had eased his head
And staunched the flow where it had bled,
Who made a pillow of his breast
Where the poor tossing head might rest,
Wore a young face he used to know
Yesterday, some time, long ago.

The night's cold it was bitter enough,
But who shall keep the fierce Day off?
And must he lie, be burnt and baked
In the hot sands, with lips unslaked? --
Will no one give him dews and rain?
Lord, send the frozen night again!

But here's the one who comforted!
No angel, but a boy instead,
Slender and young, above him leans:
The sands are changed to tender greens;
He hears the wind in the sycamore
Sing a low song by his mother's door.

Such tender touches to his wound,
Such loving arms to clasp him round,
Until they find him the third day!
The stretcher-bearers heard him say,
Don't leave me, Denis! I am here.'
Denis? But Denis died last year!

He will maintain that Denis was
Beside him in his bitter case,
Denis more beautiful and gay
Than in the dear, remembered day:
God sent no angel, but a friend
To save him at the bitter end.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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