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Memorial Poems
Table of Contents

Soldier Rest !

The Things That
Make A Soldier Great


Memorial Day

The Choice

To the Memory of
the Brave Americans

America For Me

Ode in Memory of the
American Volunteers Fallen for France

The Challenge 

Liberty Enlightening
the World

America &
Her Allies

Consecration Hymn

Soldier Rest !
Sir Walter Scott
PDF File Worksheet

Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking;
Dream of battled fields no more,
Days of danger, nights of waking.
In our isle's enchanted hall,
Hands unseen thy couch are strewing,
Fairy strains of music fall,
Every sense in slumber dewing.
Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er,
Dream of fighting fields no more:
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Morn of toil, nor night of waking.

No rude sound shall reach thine ear,
Armour's clang, or war-steed champing,
Trump nor pibroch summon here
Mustering clan, or squadron tramping;
Yet the lark's shrill fife may come
At the day-break from the fallow,
And the bittern sound his drum,
Booming from the sedgy shallow.
Ruder sounds shall none be near,
Guards nor warders challenge here,
Here's no war-steed's neigh and champing,
Shouting clans, or squadrons stamping.

Huntsman, rest! thy chase is done;
While our slumbrous spells assail ye,
Dream not, with the rising sun,
Bugles here shall sound reveille.
Sleep! the deer is in his den;
Sleep! thy hounds are by thee lying;
Sleep! nor dream in yonder glen
How thy gallant steed lay dying.
Huntsman, rest! thy chase is done,
Think not of the rising sun,
For at dawning to assail ye,
Here no bugles sound reveille.

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Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,
To face the flaming cannon's mouth nor ever question why,
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red,
The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed,
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall:
'Tis these that make a soldier great.
He's fighting for them all.

'Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave;
'Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave;
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home.
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run,
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.

What is it through the battle smoke the valiant solider sees?
The little garden far away, the budding apple trees,
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play,
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray.
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot, where'er it be -- the humblest spot called home.

And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air;
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green,
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been.
He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call,
And only death can stop him now he's fighting for them all.

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Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

Thankful for the glory of the old Red, White and Blue,
For the spirit of America that still is staunch and true,
For the laughter of our children and the sunlight in their eyes,
And the joy of radiant mothers and their evening lullabies;
And thankful that our harvests wear no taint of blood today,
But were sown and reaped by toilers who were light of heart and gay.

Thankful for the riches that are ours to claim and keep,
The joy of honest labor and the boon of happy sleep,
For each little family circle where there is no empty chair
Save where God has sent the sorrow for the loving hearts to bear;
And thankful for the loyal souls and brave hearts of the past
Who builded that contentment should be with us to the last.

Thankful for the plenty that our peaceful land has blessed,
For the rising sun that beckons every man to do his best,
For the goal that lies before him and the promise when he sows
That his hand shall reap the harvest, undisturbed by cruel foes;
For the flaming torch of justice, symbolizing as it burns:
Here none may rob the toiler of the prize he fairly earns.

To-day our thanks we're giving for the riches that are ours,
For the red fruits of the orchards and the perfume of the flowers,
For our homes with laughter ringing and our hearthfires blazing bright,
For our land of peace and plenty and our land of truth and right;
And we're thankful for the glory of the old Red, White and Blue,
For the spirit of our fathers and a manhood that is true.

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Memorial Day
Edgar Guest
PDF File Worksheet

The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead today,
Is not a rose wreath, white and red,
In memory of the blood they shed;
It is to stand beside each mound,
Each couch of consecrated ground,
And pledge ourselves as warriors true
Unto the work they died to do.

Into God's valleys where they lie
At rest, beneath the open sky,
Triumphant now o'er every foe,
As living tributes let us go.
No wreath of rose or immortelles
Or spoken word or tolling bells
Will do to-day, unless we give
Our pledge that liberty shall live.

Our hearts must be the roses red
We place above our hero dead;
Today beside their graves we must
Renew allegiance to their trust;
Must bare our heads and humbly say
We hold the Flag as dear as they,
And stand, as once they stood, to die
To keep the Stars and Stripes on high.

The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead today
Is not of speech or roses red,
But living, throbbing hearts instead,
That shall renew the pledge they sealed
With death upon the battlefield:
That freedom's flag shall bear no stain
And free men wear no tyrant's chain.


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The Choice
Rudyard Kipling

The American Spirit speaks:

To the Judge of Right and Wrong
With Whom fulfilment lies
Our purpose and our power belong,
Our faith and sacrifice.

Let Freedom's land rejoice!
Our ancient bonds are riven;
Once more to use the eternal choice
Of Good or Ill is given.

Not at a little cost,
Hardly by prayer or tears,
Shall we recover the road we lost
In the drugged and doubting years.

But, after the fires and the wrath,
But, after searching and pain,
His Mercy opens us a path
To live with ourselves again.

In the Gates of Death rejoice!
We see and hold the good
Bear witness, Earth, we have made our choice
For Freedom's brotherhood!

Then praise the Lord Most High
Whose Strength hath saved us whole,
Who bade us choose that the Flesh should die
And not the living Soul!

To the God in Man displayed
Where'er we see that Birth,
Be love and understanding paid
As never yet on earth!

To the Spirit that moves in Man,
On Whom all worlds depend,
Be Glory since our world began
And service to the end!

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To the Memory of the Brave Americans
Philip Freneau

Under General Greene, in South Carolina,
who fell in the action of September 8, 1781

AT Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
Their limbs with dust are covered o'er--
Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
How many heroes are no more!

If in this wreck or ruin, they
Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
O smite your gentle breast, and say
The friends of freedom slumber here!

Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
If goodness rules thy generous breast,
Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
Sign for the shepherds, sunk to rest!

Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
You too may fall, and ask a tear;
'Tis not the beauty of the morn
That proves the evening shall be clear.--

They saw their injured country's woe;
The flaming town, the wasted field;
Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
They took the spear--but left the shield.

Led by thy conquering genius, Greene,
The Britons they compelled to fly;
None distant viewed the fatal plain,
None grieved, in such a cause to die--

But, like the Parthian, famed of old,
Who, flying, still their arrows threw,
These routed Britons, full as bold,
Retreated, and retreating slew.

Now rest in peace, our patriot band,
Though far from nature's limits thrown,
We trust they find a happier land,
A brighter sunshine of their own.

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America For Me
Henry Van Dyke
(1852 - 1933)
American Poet and Presbyterian Minister

'TIS fine to see the Old World and travel up and down
Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,
To admire the crumblyh castles and the statues and kings
But now I think I've had enough of antiquated things.

So it's home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom, beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air;
And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair;
And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods in green battalions drilled;
I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing foutains filled;
But, oh, to take your had, my dear, and ramble for a day
In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her sway!

I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack!
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free--
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea,
To the blessed Land of Room Enough, beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.


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Ode in Memory of the American
Volunteers Fallen for France

Alan Seeger (1888-1916)

To have been read before the statue of Lafayette and Washington in Paris, on Decoration Day, 30 May 1916


Ay, it is fitting on this holiday,
Commemorative of our soldier dead,
Whenwith sweet flowers of our New England May
Hiding the lichened stones by fifty years made gray
Their graves in every town are garlanded,
That pious tribute should be given too
To our intrepid few
Obscurely fallen here beyond their seas.
Those to preserve their country's greatness died;
But by the death of these
Something that we can look upon with pride
Has been achieved, nor wholly unreplied
Can sneerers triumph in the charge they make
That from a war where Freedom was at stake
America withheld and, daunted, stood aside.


Be they remembered here with each reviving spring,
Not only that in May, when life is loveliest,
Around Neuville-Saint-Vaast and the disputed crest
Of Vimy, they, superb, unfaltering,
In that fine onslaught that no fire could halt,
Parted impetuous to their first assault;
But that they brought fresh hearts and springlike too
To that high mission, and 'tis meet to strew
With twigs of lilac and spring's earliest rose
The cenotaph of those
Who in the cause that history most endears
Fell in the sunny morn and flower of their young years.


Yet sought they neither recompense nor praise,
Nor to be mentioned in another breath
Than their blue-coated comrades whose great days
It was their pride to shareay, share even to the death!
Nay, rather, France, to you they rendered thanks
(Seeing they came for honour, not for gain),
Who, opening to them your glorious ranks,
Gave them that grand occasion to excel,
That chance to live the life most free from stain
And that rare privilege of dying well.


O friends! I know not since that war began
From which no people nobly stands aloof
If in all moments we have given proof
Of virtues that were thought American.
I know not if in all things done and said
All has been well and good,
Or of each one of us can hold his head
As proudly as he should,
Or, from the pattern of those mighty dead
Whose shades our country venerates today,
If we 've not somewhat fallen and somewhat gone astray,
But you to whom our land's good name is dear,
If there be any here
Who wonder if her manhood be decreased,
Relaxed its sinews and its blood less red
Than that at Shiloh and Antietam shed,
Be proud of these, have joy in this at least,
And cry: `Now heaven be praised
That in that hour that most imperilled her,
Menaced her liberty who foremost raised
Europe's bright flag of freedom, some there were
Who, not unmindful of the antique debt,
Came back the generous path of Lafayette;
And when of a most formidable foe
She checked each onset, arduous to stem
Foiled and frustrated them
On those red fields where blow with furious blow
Was countered, whether the gigantic fray
Rolled by the Meuse or at the Bois Sabot,
Accents of ours were in the fierce mêlée;
And on those furthest rims of hallowed ground
Where the forlorn, the gallant charge expires,
When the slain bugler has long ceased to sound,
And on the tangled wires
The last wild rally staggers, crumbles, stops,
Withered beneath the shrapnel's iron showers:  
Now heaven be thanked, we gave a few brave drops;
Now heaven be thanked, a few brave drops were ours.'


There, holding still, in frozen steadfastness,
Their bayonets toward the beckoning frontiers,
They lieour comradeslie among their peers,
Clad in the glory of fallen warriors,
Grim clustered under thorny trellises,
Dry, furthest foam upon disastrous shores,
Leaves that made last year beautiful, still strewn
Even as they fell, unchanged, beneath the changing moon;
And earth in her divine indifference
Rolls on, and many paltry things and mean
Prate to be heard and caper to be seen.
But they are silent, clam; their eloquence
Is that incomparable attitude;
No human presences their witness are,
But summer clouds and sunset crimson-hued,
And showers and night winds and the northern star
Nay, even our salutations seem profane,
Opposed to their Elysian quietude;
Our salutations calling from afar,
From our ignobler plane
And undistinction of our lesser parts:
Hail, brothers, and farewell; you are twice blest, brave hearts.
Double your glory is who perished thus,
For you have died for France and vindicated us.

Statute of Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), French general, and George Washington (1732-99), first American president, stands in the Place des Etats-Unis in Paris

Neuville-Saint-Vaast is four miles north of Arras in the Pas de Calais, northern France, the site of much fighting in World War I

Vimy: Allies stormed Vimy Ridge (near Artois) in 1915 but failed to take it:  225,000 lives were lost.

Shiloh:  War Between the States battle fought 6-7 April 1862, near Shiloh Church Antietam:  War Between the States battle fought by Maryland creek 16-17 September near the town of Sharpsburg

Meuse River extending from northern France through Belgium into the North Sea fighting went on for years in World War I.

Elysian: the Elysian Fields Greek/Roman myth where those that were "good" to the State went to after death

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The Challenge
Dysart McMullen

World War I Poem

The world must be made
safe for democracy.
Woodrow Wilson, 2 April 1917

Not with the rolling voices of the guns,
Nor yet with sheen of sun on bayonet bright
Do we salute the world, this day of days,
Strong to uphold the right.

Power shall answer might in days to come,
Shell speak to shell beneath a flaming sky,
And soldiers swarm the narrow ways of death
Proud of their chance to die.

But that is for the future; here today
After long waiting have we found tongue,
And in forum of the world's acclaim
Immortal challenge flung.

He must be safe who delves with humble hands !
He must be safe who toils in storm and heat !
Never again the plaything of dull kings
Chained to ambitious feet !

Only for this we go into the murk :
Not for revenge yea, though our dead be hid
Deep in the sea and call with clarion voice
Our greatness must forbid.

But to this monstrous thing which men have made
Out of long ages strong of hate and might
This bloody mask called Emperor or King,
This horror of the night

We call a halt ! and bid it stand and draw !
Beat the long roll and all our bugles play !
Hark well our challenge ! Ye who crowd the night !
It is the dawn of day !

Why did the USA enter the Great War?  The answer is simple and sufficient.  America believes in two kinds, and only two kinds, of war.  She believes in a war of self-defense, and in a war of rescue, liberation, emancipation, and freedom.  America entered the Great War on the basis of self-defense and of rescue and freedom.

Dysart enlisted at the entrace of the United States into World War I and served the Red Cross in France as a commissioned officer.

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Liberty Enlightening the World
Henry Van Dyke

World War I Poem

Thou warden of the western gate, above Manhattan Bay,
The fogs of doubt that hid thy face are driven clean away:
Thine eyes at last look far and clear, thou liftest high thy hand
To spread the light of liberty worldwide for every land.

No more thou dreamest of a peace reserved alone for thee,
While friends are fighting for thy cause behond the guardian sea:
The battle that they wage is thine; thou fallest if they fall;
The swollen flood of Prussian pride will sweep unclecked o'er all.

O curel is the conquer-lust in Hohenzollern brains:
The paths they plot to gain their goal are dark with shameful stains:
No faith they keep, no law revere, no God but naked Might;
They are the foemen of mankind.  Up, Liberty, and smite !

Britain, and France and Italy, and Russia newly born,
Have waited for thee in the night.  Oh, come as comes the morn !
Serene and strong and full of faith, America, arise,
With steady hope and mighty help to join thy brave Allies.

O dearest country of my heart, home of the high desire,
Make clean thy soul for sacrifice on Freedom's altar-fire:
For thou must suffer, thou must fight, until the war-lords cease,
And all the peoples lift their heads in liberty and peace.

Henry Van Dyke wrote this poem " ... after I resigned my diplomatic post and was free to say what I thought and felt, without reserve."  He held the post as Minister to the Netherlands.


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America and Her Allies
Washington Gladden

World War I Poem

O land of lands, my fatherland,
   The beautiful, the free,
All lands and shores to freedom dear,
   Are ever dear to thee;
All sons of freedom hail thy name
   And wait thy word of might,
While round the world the lists are joined
   For liberty and light.

Hail sons of France, old comrades dear !
   Hail Britons brave and true !
Hail Belgian martyrs ringed with flame !
   Slavs fired with visions new !
Italian lovers mailed with light !
   Dark brothers from Japan !
From East to West all lands are kin
   Who live for God and man.

Here endeth war !  Our bands are sworn !
   Now dawns the better hour,
When lust of blood shall cease to rule,
   When peace shall come with power;
We front the fiend that rends our race,
   And fills our homes with gloom;
We break his scepter, spurn his crown,
   And nail him to his tomb !

Now hands all 'round, our troth we plight,
   To rid the world of lies,
To fill all hearts with truth and trust,
   And willing sacrifice;

To free all lands from hate and spite,
   And fear from strand to strand;
To make all nations neighbors,
   And the world one Fatherland !

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American Consecration Hymn
Percy MacKaye

World War I Poem


O thou, who long ago
Didst move the hearts of men
Their freedom's worth to know,
   America !
Now move our hearts again,
To rise for all men's right,
And, strong in liberty,
   Go forth to fight,
   Go forth to fight,
      Forth to fight,
         For thee !

For right, more dear than peace,
For hope, that bears release
To slavish agonies,
   Our swords are drawn;
And they shall rest no more
Till yonder blood-red seas
   And hell-dark shore
   Are white with dawn.


Not bound by earthly loam
Art thou, nor shelt'ring hill:
Thou art our spirits' home,
   America !
Our home, that lures us still
To build beyond war's grave,
And, where God's watch-fires gleam,
   Go forth to save,
   Go forth to save,
      Forth to save,
         Our dream !


O land, whose living soul
Hast led all tribes to seek
Their Godward star and goal,
   America !
Now bid thy beacon speak
In fire, and let thy bright
Auroral stars, unfurled,
   Go forth to light,
   Go forth to light,
      Forth to light,
         The world !

This hymn was dedicated by the author and the composer (Francis Macmillen) to president Wilson in response to Woodrow Wilsons words:  "The right is more precious than peace."  The Consecration Hymn was sung at training camps.


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