FRANCE, I HAVE EVER LOVED YOU

Oh, I have ever loved you, beauteous France:
Yea, I have loved you from the first
Glad day I saw you in your radiant prime,
Smiling, and somewhat wanton and aware
And unashamed of your delinquencies.
Aware of your own beauty too, and quite
Indifferent or unbelieving, if one said
That beauty or idealism dwelt in any land but France!

And yet you seemed to bind me with a leash
Of tenderness from that initial hour.
You took my heart between your pliant hands
And pressed out memories of old vanished lives,
When I in other bodies was a part of your great past.
Those memories are fragrant, like a summer night
After a rain; and always when I touch your magic shores
They steal out from Infinitudes of Space
And indistinctly whisper of dead selves and long departed eras.

Now once again have I dwelt with you, France:
My heart has beaten with your torn heart through dread hours,
And felt the impotence of sympathy
To right colossal wrongs. And I have seen
The first wide wonder waken in your soul
When stalwart armies and majestic ships
Crossed death-charged seas, to lay low at your feet--
Your tired feet, the concept of a young new world's idealism.
And I have wept while you, dry eyed, revealed red gaping wounds,
And went upon your way with that high look
Which has replaced your riant wanton smile:
That look of one who sees a brilliant star
Rising above a wilderness of graves,
With promise of a great and solemn dawn.

Oh, I have ever loved you, beauteous France,
And now! And now!

Poems of affection. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1920.


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