AFTER ALL by William Winter (1836-1917)

The apples are ripe in the orchard, The work of the reaper is done, And the golden woodlands redden In the blood of the dying sun. At the cottage-door the grandsire Sits pale in his easy-chair, While the gentle wind of twilight Plays with his silver hair. A woman is kneeling beside him; A fair young head is pressed, In the first wild passion of sorrow, Against his aged breast. And far from over the distance The faltering echoes come Of the flying blast of trumpet And the rattling roll of drum. And the grandsire speaks in a whisper: "The end no man can see; But we give him to his country And we give our prayers to Thee." The violets star the meadows, The rose-buds fringe the door, And over the grassy orchard The pink-white blossoms pour. But the grandsire's chair is empty, The cottage is dark and still; There's a nameless grave in the battle-field, And a new one under the hill. And a pallid, tearless woman By the cold hearth sits alone; And the old clock in the corner Ticks on with a steady drone.

Postwar Remembrances