Backblock Ballads and Later Verses

The Little Homes

C.J. Dennis

WE have heard the cheering, brothers,
    We have heard the martial peal;
We have seen the soldiers marching
    And the glint of sun and steel.
We have heard the songs, the shouting;
    But, while forth the soldier roams,
Who has heard the weeping, brothers,
                    In the Little Homes?

We have seen the gay processions
    And the careless, laughing crowds.;
We have seen the banners waving
    Out against the peaceful clouds;
Yet, while colors proudly flutter
    Over noble spires and domes,
Who has seen the mourning, brothers,
                    In the Little Homes?

From the Little Homes that nestle
    Where the smiling fields sweep wide,
From the Little Homes that huddle
    In the city, side by side,
They have called the eager fighters—
    Men who went with smiles and cheers;
Pride of wives and pride of mothers,
                    Choking back the tears!

Women of the little homesteads,
    Women of the city slums,
They are waiting, ever waiting;
    And the sound of muffled drums
In some stricken Home is echoed,
    Where grey Grief is guest to-day.
And to-morrow?    Nay, the others
                    Still must wait—and pray.

What the Little Homes shall suffer,
    What the Little Homes shall pay
Must be more than sturdy fighters,
    More than women’s grief to-day.
In the years that follow after,
    Be our battles won or lost,
In the Little Homes, my brothers,
                    They shall pay the cost.

They shall pay the cost of glory,
    They shall pay the price of peace,
Years and many long years after
    All the sounds of battle cease.
When the sword is sheathed—or broken—
    When the battle flag is furled,
Still the Little Homes must suffer
                    Over all the World.

Have you seen the old grey mothers
    Smiling to the ringing cheers?
Have you seen the young wives striving
    Bravely to hold back the tears?
Have you seen the young girl marching
    By her soldier-lover’s side?
Have you, seen our country’s women
                    All aglow with pride?

Then, shall we think shame, my brothers,
    To give thanks upon our knees
That the land we love should hold them—
    Wives and mothers such as these?    
Women who still hide their sorrow
    As their soldiers march away,
Turning brave and steadfast faces
                    To the light of day?

Oh, the Little Homes are Cheerful—
    Little Homes that know no pride
But the pride of sacrificing
    Loved ones to the battle tide!
They are many, many brothers,
    And their sacrifice is great.
Shrines are they and sacred places,
                    Where the women wait.

Aye, the Little Homes are holy
    At the closing of the day,
When young wives must face their sorrow,
    When grey mothers kneel to pray,
Facing, all alone, dread visions
    Of the land the soldier roams,
Then God heed the sobbing, brothers,
                    In the Little Homes.

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