John McCrae

(30 November 1872 – 28 January 1918 / Guelph, Ontario)

The Anxious Dead


O guns, fall silent till the dead men hear
Above their heads the legions pressing on:
(These fought their fight in time of bitter fear,
And died not knowing how the day had gone.)

O flashing muzzles, pause, and let them see
The coming dawn that streaks the sky afar;
Then let your mighty chorus witness be
To them, and Caesar, that we still make war.

Tell them, O guns, that we have heard their call,
That we have sworn, and will not turn aside,
That we will onward till we win or fall,
That we will keep the faith for which they died.

Bid them be patient, and some day, anon,
They shall feel earth enwrapt in silence deep;
Shall greet, in wonderment, the quiet dawn,
And in content may turn them to their sleep.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Read poems about / on: faith, war, silence, sleep, fear, sky, time

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Comments about this poem (The Anxious Dead by John McCrae )

  • Gold Star - 37,965 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (2/27/2015 9:46:00 AM)

    We must adopt and feel the cruelty we must not use guns to kill the innocent (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 3,375 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (2/27/2015 8:34:00 AM)

    Bid them be patient, and some day, anon,
    They shall feel earth enwrapt in silence deep; ...

    Beautiful expression to expose the tragedy of human civilization. Skilled craft indeed. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 10,359 Points Kim Barney (2/27/2015 7:33:00 AM)

    The poet died around the time of WW One. I wonder if that was the war he was writing about or an earlier one?
    Well written. I enjoyed reading this one. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Julie Miner (11/1/2007 4:45:00 PM)

    Great poem. Having met a soilder who had seen heavy battle in Iraque it accuratly expresses thoughts they may have (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Neil Barry Haughey (11/12/2006 2:59:00 PM)

    Extemely moving. Falls just short of 'In Flanders Fields'. (Report) Reply

Read all 5 comments »

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