Shaemas O'Sheel


They Went Forth To Battle, But They Always Fell - Poem by Shaemas O'Sheel

They went forth to battle, but they always fell;
   Their eyes were fixed above the sullen shields;
Nobly they fought and bravely, but not well,
And sank heart-wounded by a subtle spell.
   They knew not fear that to the foeman yields,
   They were not weak, as one who vainly wields
A futile weapon; yet the sad scrolls tell
How on the hard-fought field they always fell.

It was a secret music that they heard,
   A sad sweet plea for pity and for peace;
And that which pierced the heart was but a word,
Though the white breast was red-lipped where the sword
   Pressed a fierce cruel kiss, to put surcease
   On its hot thirst, but drank a hot increase.
Ah, they by some strange troubling doubt were stirred,
And died for hearing what no foeman heard.

They went forth to battle but they always fell;
   Their might was not the might of lifted spears;
Over the battle-clamor came a spell
Of troubling music, and they fought not well.
   Their wreaths are willows and their tribute, tears;
   Their names are old sad stories in men's ears;
Yet they will scatter the red hordes of Hell,
Who went to battle forth and always fell.


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Read poems about / on: sad, music, red, kiss, peace, fear, heart



Poem Submitted: Saturday, January 4, 2003



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