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George Herbert Clarke, ed. (1873–1953). A Treasury of War Poetry. 1917.

Leslie Coulson

“—But a Short Time to Live”

OUR little hour,—how swift it flies

When poppies flare and lilies smile;

How soon the fleeting minute dies,

Leaving us but a little while

To dream our dream, to sing our song,

To pick the fruit, to pluck the flower,

The Gods—They do not give us long,—

One little hour.

Our little hour,—how short it is

When Love with dew-eyed loveliness

Raises her lips for ours to kiss

And dies within our first caress.

Youth flickers out like wind-blown flame,

Sweets of to-day to-morrow sour,

For Time and Death, relentless, claim

Our little hour.

Our little hour,—how short a time

To wage our wars, to fan our hates,

To take our fill of armoured crime,

To troop our banners, storm the gates.

Blood on the sword, our eyes blood-red,

Blind in our puny reign of power,

Do we forget how soon is sped

Our little hour?

Our little hour,—how soon it dies:

How short a time to tell our beads,

To chant our feeble Litanies,

To think sweet thoughts, to do good deeds.

The altar lights grow pale and dim,

The bells hang silent in the tower—

So passes with the dying hymn

Our little hour.