To Our First Dead

They died for France like countless thousands more

Who, in this war, have faltered not to go

At duty's bidding, even unto death.

And yet, no deaths which history records,

Were fought with greater consequence than theirs.

A nation shuddered as their spirits passed;

And unborn babies trembled in the womb,

In sympathetic anguish at their fate.


Far from their homes and in ungainful strife

They gave their all, in that they gave their life;

While their young blood, shed in this distant land,

Shall be more potent than the dragon's teeth

To raise up soldiers to avenge their fall.


Men talked of sacrifice, but there was none;

Death found them unafraid and free to come

Before their God. In righteous battle slain

A joyous privilege theirs; the first to go

In that their going doomed to certain wrath

A thousand foemen, for each drop they gave

Of sacramental crimson, to the cause.


And so their youthful forms all dank and stiff,

All stained with tramplings in unlovely mud,

We laid to rest beneath the soil of France

So often honored with the hero slain;

Yet never greatlier so than on this day,

When we interred our first dead in her heart.


There let them rest, wrapped in her verdant arms,

Their task well done. Now, from the smoke veiled sky,

They watch our khaki legions pass to certain victory,

Because of them who showed us how to die.

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