The U-Boat Crew

ALAS, alas for those blond boys who stalk
Their prey in ambush of the shuddering seas,
Whiling the wait with merry, tender talk
Of some dear knot of flower-clad cottages
Beyond the Rhine! The merchantship draws on;
Their swift torpedo strikes its mark; the sea
Moans with the dying; for a victory won
They thank the pagan god of Germany.
Happier to die the hideous, smothering death,
Too deep for mercy, in their own snared trap,
Than live to learn how time interpreteth
The cause they served; the tragical mishap
Of pride that pledged The Day and brought The Night;
—Than live to loathe their Fatherland, a name
So high, so fallen, that betrayed their bright
Young loyalty to savageries of shame.

by Katharine Lee Bates

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