THE GHOSTS

There was no wind, and yet the air
   Seemed suddenly astir;
There were no forms, and yet all space
        Seemed thronged with growing hosts.
They came from Where and from Nowhere.
   Like phantoms as they were.
They came from many a land and place--
        The ghosts, the ghosts, the ghosts.

And some were white and some were gray
   And some were red as blood--
Those ghosts of men who met their death
        Upon the field of war.
Against the skies of fading day,
   Like banks of clouds they stood;
And each wraith asked another wraith,
        "What were we fighting for?"

One said, "I was my mother's all:
   And she was old and blind."
Another, "Back on earth, my wife
        And week-old baby lie."
Another, "At the bugle's call,
   I left my bride behind;
Love made so beautiful my life,
        I could not bear to die."

In voices like the winds that moan
   Among pine trees at night,
They whispered long, the newly dead,
        While listening stars came out.
"We wonder if the cause is known,
   And if the war was right,
That killed us in our prime," they said.
        "And what it was about."

They came in throngs that filled all space--
   Those whispering phantom hosts.
They came from many a land and place--
   The ghosts, the ghosts, the ghosts.

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.


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