In Sun and Shade: A Book of Verse

by Frederick George Scott


 

THE SILENT TOAST


 

THEY stand with reverent faces
    And their merriment give o’er,
As they drink the toast to the unseen host,
    Who have fought and gone before.

It is only a passing moment

5
    In the midst of the feast and song,
But it grips the breath, as the wing of death
    In a vision sweeps along.

No more they see the banquet
    And the brilliant lights around;

10
But they charge again on the hideous plain
    When the shell-bursts rip the ground.

Or they creep at night, like panthers,
    Through the waste of No-Man’s Land,
Their hearts afire with a wild desire

15
    And death on every hand.

And out of the roar of tumult,
    Or the black night loud with rain,
Some face comes back on the fiery track
    And looks in their eyes again.

20

And the love that is passing woman’s,
    And the bonds that are forged by death,
Now grip the soul with a strange control
    And speak what no man saith.

The vision dies off in the stillness,

25
    Once more the tables shine,
But the eyes of all in the banquet hall
    Are lit with a light divine.

In a dugout on Vimy Ridge, April 1917.