14 September 1917

Givenchy village lies a wreck, Givenchy Church is bare;
No more the pleasant maidens come to say their vespers there.
The altar rails are wrenched apart, with rubble littered o’er,
The sacred, broken sanctuary lamp lies smashed upon the floor.
And mute upon the crucifix He looks down on it all
The great white Christ, the shrapnel scourged, upon the eastern wall.

He sees the churchyard delved with shells, the tombstones flung about,
And dead men’s skulls, the white, white bones the shells have shovelled out.
The trenches running line by line through meadow fields of green,
The bayonets on the parapets, the wasting flesh between.
Around Givenchy’s ruined church the levels, poppy red,
Are set apart for silent hosts, the legions of the dead.

And when at night on sentry-go, with danger keeping tryst,
I see upon the crucifix the blood-stained form of Christ.
Defiled and maimed, the merciful, on vigil all the time,
Pitying his children’s wrath, their passion and their crime.
Mute, mute He hangs upon His cross, the symbol of his pain,
And as men scourged him long ago they scourge Him once again.
There in the lonely war-lit night to Christ the Lord I call,
“Forgive the ones who work Thee harm O Lord, forgive us all.”

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This entry was posted on September 14th, 2017.