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

Grace Ellery Channing

Qui Vivo?

Qui vive? Who passes by up there?

Who moves—what stirs in the startled air?

What whispers, thrills, exults up there?

Qui vive?

“The Flags of France.”

What wind on a windless night is this,

That breathes as light as a lover’s kiss,

That blows through the night with bugle notes,

That streams like a pennant from a lance,

That rustles, that floats?

“The Flags of France.”

What richly moves, what lightly stirs,

Like a noble lady in a dance,

When a men’s eyes are in love with hers

And needs must follow?

“The Flags of France.”

What calls to the heart—and the heart has heard,

Speaks, and the soul has obeyed the word,

Summons, and all the years advance,

And the world goes forward with France—with France?

Who called?

“The Flags of France.”

What flies—a glory, through the night,

While the legions stream—a line of light,

And men fall to the left and fall to the right,

But they fall not?

“The Flags of France.”

Qui vive? Who comes? What approaches there?

What soundless tumult, what breath in the air

Takes the breath in the throat, the blood from the heart?

In a flame of dark, to the unheard beat

Of an unseen drum and fleshless feet,

Without glint of barrel or bayonets’ glance,

They approach—they come. Who comes? (Hush! Hark!)

“Qui vive?”

“The Flags of France.”

Uncover the head and kneel—kneel down,

A monarch passes, without a crown,

Let the proud tears fall but the heart beat high:

The Greatest of All is passing by,

On its endless march in the endless Plan:

“Qui vive?”

“The Spirit of Man.”

“O Spirit of Man, pass on! Advance!”

And they who lead, who hold the van?

Kneel down!

The Flags of France.
Paris, 1917