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An Old Proverb
DSS (1866-1918 / Ireland)

An Old Proverb

Poem By Dora Sigerson Shorter

'It will be all the same in a thousand years.'


And in a thousand years
It will be all the same,
Whether or no
Women's tears flow,
Or battles take us
To save or to break us,
Or man against man
Advance but a span;
Hideous in anger,
Tame in death's languor,
Shouting and crying,
Sobbing and dying,
On the red fields of war;
Calling on those afar,
Mother and child and wife
There in the midst of strife.

God, the earth shakes with it!
Down in the hellish pit,
Where the red river ran,
Hatred of man to man;
Maddened they rush to kill,
That but their single will;
Strangle or bayonet him!
Trample him life and limb
Into the awful mire;
Break him with knife or fire!
So that we know he lie
Dead to the smiling sky.

And in a thousand years
It will be all the same.
Which of us was to blame?
What will it matter then?
Over the sleeping men
Grass will so softly grow
No one would ever know
Of the dark crimson stain,
Of all the hate and pain
That once had fearful birth
In the black secret earth.

Ah! in a thousand years
Time will forget our tears.
Babes in their golden hour
Seeking some hidden flower
Will, in those years afar,
Play on the fields of war;
And as they laughing roam
Mothers will call them home;
Laden with fruit and flower
Run they at twilight hour.
Cattle will, lowing, stray,
Little lambs frisk and play,
Birds nest in hedge and tree
All in Time's victory.

Dark o' night, dawn o' day,
Dark o' night, dawn o' day.
Thus in a thousand years
Time will forget our tears,
And the lost fields of war.
In the good years afar
When the lads silent lie,
When women's tears are dry.
All the wives comforted,

All the maid's grief is shed,
Crying babes safe and still
Sleeping in vale and hill,
Sobbing of men is mute,
And scream of dying brute,
On the red fields of war,
In those good years afar.
Only the waving grass,
Where the shy children pass
Seeking the hidden flower,
Glad in their golden hour,
And as they laughing roam
Mothers will call them home,
Laden with fruit or flower
Run they at twilight hour.

Over the meadow grass
Slow the moon's shadows pass.
Only the chirp of bird
From the deep hedge is heard.
This in a thousand years
Payment of blood and tears,
Horrors we dare not name,
It will be all the same.

What is the value then
To all those sleeping men?
It will be all the same,
Passion and grief and blame.
This in the years to be,
My God, the tragedy!

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