World war had come - and gone.  It seemed the end.
Spent, broken, by the last despair oppressed,
Unfitted to attack or yet defend,
The nations' panting remnants skulked to rest
A listless, brutish rest, where no hope gleamed,
Where earth's last glory had been thrown away
With all the splendid dreams man ever dreamed;
And his proud world a stricken shambles lay.

Grief only stayed.  Great cities in the dust
Littered the path of ruin absolute,
Where sapient man, in that last mad bloodlust;
Surrendered all his birthright to the Brute;
And now the Brute triumphant claimed an earth
Where love or life or death mattered no more;
And faith and friendship, every shred of worth,
Dishonored utterly, were trampled o'er.

With a field where, lately, countless dead
Had lain till deeper, kindlier rest they found,
I saw a man who walked with bended head
And eyes that ever searched the shell-torn ground.
Times would he pause and, lifting up anon
Some metal fragment, weigh it in his hand,
Cast it aside, and wearily pass on,
Searching and ever searching that red land.

'Strange man,' I said, 'what are you seeking here
Where tortured soil grins upward to the skies?
Mayhap some relic of a comrade dear?'
He raised his head.  And I beheld his eyes -
Indomitable eyes!… 'What search you for?'
I urged again, 'where futile heroes died
And hope lies buried deep for evermore?'…
'For steel, to shape a ploughshare,' he replied.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:15 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 1,399
Words 254
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 8, 8, 8, 8

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, was an Australian poet known for his humorous poems, especially "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke", published in the early 20th century. Though Dennis's work is less well known today, his 1915 publication of The Sentimental Bloke sold 65,000 copies in its first year, and by 1917 he was the most prosperous poet in Australian history. Together with Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, both of whom he had collaborated with, he is often considered among Australia's three most famous poets. While attributed to Lawson by 1911, Dennis later claimed he himself was the 'laureate of the larrikin'. When he died at the age of 61, the Prime Minister of Australia Joseph Lyons suggested he was destined to be remembered as the 'Australian Robert Burns'. more…

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