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

Charlotte Holmes Crawford

Vive la France!

FRANCELINE rose in the dawning gray,

And her heart would dance though she knelt to pray,

For her man Michel had holiday,

Fighting for France.

She offered her prayer by the cradle-side,

And with baby palms folded in hers she cried:

“If I have but one prayer, dear, crucified

Christ—save France!

“But if I have two, then, by Mary’s grace,

Carry me safe to the meeting-place,

Let me look once again on my dear love’s face,

Save him for France!”

She crooned to her boy: “Oh, how glad he’ll be,

Little three-months old, to set eyes on thee!

For, ‘Rather than gold, would I give,’ wrote he,

‘A son to France.’

“Come, now, be good, little stray sauterelle,

For we’re going by-by to thy papa Michel,

But I’ll not say where for fear thou wilt tell,

Little pigeon of France!

Six days’ leave and a year between!

But what would you have? In six days clean,

Heaven was made,” said Franceline,

“Heaven and France.”

She came to the town of the nameless name,

To the marching troops in the street she came,

And she held high her boy like a taper flame

Burning for France.

Fresh from the trenches and gray with grime,

Silent they march like a pantomime;

“But what need of music? My heart beats time—

Vive la France!”

His regiment comes. Oh, then where is he?

“There is dust in my eyes, for I cannot see,—

Is that my Michel to the right of thee,

Soldier of France?”

Then out of the ranks a comrade fell,—

“Yesterday—’t was a splinter of shell—

And he whispered thy name, did thy poor Michel,

Dying for France.”

The tread of the troops on the pavement throbbed

Like a woman’s heart of its last joy robbed,

As she lifted her boy to the flag, and sobbed:

Vive la France!”