Katharine Lee Bates

(1859-1929 / United States)

The Red Cross Nurse - Poem by Katharine Lee Bates

ONE summer day, gleaming in memory,
We drove, my Joy and I,
Through fragrant hawthorn lanes
Gold-fringed with wisps of rye
Brushed off the harvest wains,
From that old, gladsome town of Shrewsbury,
Throned on twin hills and girdled by a loop
Of the brown Severn, out to Battlefield.
Henry the Fourth with his usurping sword
Smote here the haughty Percies,
And after builded here, as due to Him
Who made rebellion stoop
And lesser traitors to chief traitor yield,
A church. Decayed, restored,
Its centuries afford.
To stranger eyes, enshadowed by the view
Of that ridged burial plain from which it grew,
No sight more sacred than a crude
Image of visage dim,
Hewn by some ancient tool from forest wood,
Our Lady of the Mercies.
Even so long ago amid the slaughter,
Hushed now beneath its coverlet of flowers,
Groped this imperfect dream
Of Pity, pure, divine.
Madonna, look to-day upon thy daughter
And know her by the crimson cross, the sign
Of love that shall at last, at last redeem
This war-torn world of ours

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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