[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]
Fighting in France.
Perth daily paper ad.:—
“Will some kind person adopt a motherless baby girl?
Father killed in France?”
Are you list’ning, O, Heavyheart, childless and lone?
Are you reading this message aright?
Is your soul of souls touched by its pitiful tone,
Does it waken a conscience contrite?
Won’t somebody keep, won’t someone adopt
This wee helpless waif of the War,
This dear bud of Heaven on stony soil dropt,
This jetsam on somebody’s shore?
The story is simple, it’s carved on no cairn,
Yet each syllable rings with romance.
Who’s going to care for a wee bonny bairn
Whose father fell fighting in France?
There are marriage ties merely of parchment and ink
There are bosoms of animate clay;
There are aching hearts drifting for want of a link
To bind them for ever and aye.
There are mansions untrod by the feet of a child,
Uncheered by its sunshine and song:
There are natures ne’er yet by a baby beguiled
Into banishing rancour and wrong.
There are bosoms a-weary of silence and slight,
There are arms that are waiting a chance
To gather within them a poor orphaned mite
Whose father fell fighting in France.
Be sure that the babe of a father who died
For the land that had given him love,
Will thrill with a patriot’s ’herited pride
Now the eagle gives way to the dove.
Be sure that the courage that coursed in his veins
In that land far away o’er the wave,
Didn’t cease when his soul shuddered out of its chains
To be with the battle-gods brave.
Be sure that the child of a warrior who
Made one of that mighty Advance,
Will equal in loyalty, trusty and true,
Her sire who fell fighting in France.
Grow up, little girlie, grow up and be glad,
Face the footpaths of Fate unafraid.
There may be no mummy, there may no dad,
Where your manners are moulded and made.
No mother may hear and no mother may know
Your sweet baby prattle and play;
No father may guide, as the years come and go,
The footsteps that falter and stray.
But you shall look back through the vista of time
With a patriot’s pride in your glance,
To the day of a sacrifice, great and sublime,
When your father fell fighting in France!
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 100-101
Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 22 October 1916, p. 8
bairn = (Scottish) child
dove = peace (in iconography and literature, doves have been used to symbolize peace)
eagle = war (in iconography and literature, eagles have been used to symbolize war)
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