Mary Carolyn Davies.

The drums in our street; a book of war poems online

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GIFT OF

Class o 19 oo







MARY CARLYN DAVIES, former student at University of
California, who has won Morgenthau poetry prize. She is a
poet and novelist.




THE DRUMS IN OUR STREET



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS
ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD,

TORONTO



THE DRUMS
IN OUR STREET

3 13oofc of Mar porm s



BY



MARY CAROLYN DAVIES



j ;**-* j *j *"



Nttn

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1918

tt reserved



COPYRIGHT, 19x8,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.



Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1918.



NorinooU tyrtss

J. S. Gushing Co. Berwick & Smitn Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



So

MY THREE BROTHERS

SERGEANT A. H. DAVIES
COMPANY E, 4 BATTALION, ZOTH ENGINEERS, A.E.F.

SERGEANT S. L. DAVIES
COMPANY D, 6TH BATTALION, ZOTH ENGINEERS, A.E.F.

SERGEANT L. L. DAVIES

BASE HOSPITAL 46, A.E.F.

FORMERLY CORPORAL, SEVENTIETH BATTERY

CANADIAN FIELD ARTILLERY

(DISCHARGED FOR WOUNDS)



382793



THANKS are due to the following magazines for
permission to republish many of these poems:

"Century, * "Poetry," "Touchstone," "Na
tion," "Collier s," "Cosmopolitan," "Youth s
Companion," "Everybody s," " McClure s,"
"Good Housekeeping," "Designer," " Mun-
sey s," "Smith s," "Ainslee s," and others.



CONTENTS

PART I

THE BLOOD-STAINED CROSS .... 3

THE DRUMS ARE ECHOING IN OUR STREET . 7

AMERICA 1917-1918 8

PEACE 9

ON LEAVE IN A STRANGE LITTLE TOWN . . 10

SOLDIER LOVE 12

A BOY SOLDIER S PRAYER 14

"JOAN, WHO LEADS THE SOLDIERS" 16

IN OUR STREET 19

AT WIPERS AND CALVARY 21

A CASUALTY LIST 23

THE NEW PLAYFELLOW 26

EVAN 28

WAR 31

A WAR WEDDING 32

SPRING Sows HER SEEDS 33

SMITH, OF THE THIRD OREGON, DIES . . 36

THE MOVIES IN FRANCE 39

[ix]



Contents

PAGE

YOUNG DEATH . 41

SCHOOLMATES ....... 43

THE DEAD SON . V 46

SOUNDS ... . . . . . 49

"HIGHLANDERS, Fix BAYONETS" *- V 50

"LET S PRETEND" . V . V . . 59

FOR A YOUNG SOLDIER . . . . . 61

IN A MIRROR . ., ; . . . 62

PURGED BY WAR . ... . . . 65

ON A TROOP TRAIN . . . . _ . . 66

THE GREAT WAR .... . . . 68

FIRE OF THE SUN . ..... .69

IF HE CAME Now . . . . . . 71

THE CHINQUAPIN TRAIL . . . . 73

ON AN OLD BATTLEFIELD . . ; . -75

THE RECRUITING STATION AT THE NEW YORK

PUBLIC LIBRARY 76

THE GENEROUS GIVER 78

THE GAY LAD DEATH 81

RICHARD LOVELACE AND RICHARD SMITH . . 85

A GIRLS WAR SEWING CLASS . > . . 88

TENEMENT WINDOWS . . . - . . 95

THE WAR BULLETIN . . . . >. . 97

THE BIRDS BETWEEN THE TRENCHES . . 98



Contents

PAGE

A CALIFORNIAN IN FRANCE . . * .* 99
A SONG OF SEVERAL YOUNG MEN . . . 101

RED SUNDAY ,102

MY CHUM 104

THE LITTLE TRAIL TO DEATH . . . .107
WOUNDED RED CROSS NURSE . . . .109

PART II

THE DRUMS IN OUR SQUARE . . . .113

LAST NIGHT IJ S

ENLISTED Il8

THE BROKEN PROMISE 120

A GREENWICH VILLAGE TEA ROOM . . .121
AT THE GRAND CENTRAL STATION . . .123

"ANYTHING You WANT" 125

A SOLDIER S WIFE 127



PART I



THE DRUMS IN OUR
STREET

THE BLOOD-STAINED CROSS

(From a rosary found on the body of a poilu killed at the
battle of Festubert.)

A BLACK cross and a bloody

With a small Christ on a tree,
A black cross and a bloody

From a dead man s rosary,
To count no Ave Marys

To say no prayers by rote
A black cross and a bloody

I wear upon my throat;

A black cross and a bloody
I wear upon a chain

[3]



The Dris-ffw in Our Street

To keep in this my body
Still, still, his body s pain;

A black cross and a bloody
To let me not again

Sleep satisfied or calm until
A murderer be slain.



The young dead man had stiffened.

His fingers held from harm
In wooden clasp the cross that now

Upon my throat is warm.
About him fell my kinsmen;

The foe they could not stem;
And since I have no token

I keep this cross for them.

Blackcrusted blood makes holy
The black cross at my throat.

[4]



The Drums in Our Street

And to the Christ upon it
I say no prayers by rote :

Kind prayers I have forgotten,
The little prayers of peace

Until a death be compassed
I have not time for these.



Until his death be compassed

Who slew my kin, I keep
The little cross upon me

To tell me, in my sleep,
Even in dreams, to strengthen

My arm to join my blow
With others to bring death to him

Who laid my kinsmen low.

I wear the black cross that has been
In a dead man s hand. I dedicate



The Drums in Our Street

My life, my power, my strength, my hate
To this : For what his deeds have been
To slay the one who slew my kin.

BEAUTY AND JOY ARE KIN TO ME

AND YOUTH. WAR SLEW THEM UTTERLY.



6]



THE DRUMS ARE ECHOING IN OUR
STREET

The drums are echoing in our street.
Each has heard the music sweet :
Jones, and Lena, and her three
Boys; and Mrs. Rafferty.

The drums are echoing in our street.
They change each life, as on they beat.
And Ruth has heard them, Glen, and Guy,
And Mrs. Henderson and I.



AMERICA 1917-1918

A nation goes adventuring!

With new and shining mail
A nation goes adventuring

To seek the Holy Grail.

A nation leaves its money-bags,
Its fireside safe and warm,

To ride about the windy world
And keep the weak from harm.

A nation goes adventuring,

With heart that will not quail,

God grant it, on some hard-won dawn,
Sight of the Holy Grail.

[8]



PEACE

When all the war is made and done,
And in our town I stand once more,

From other homes I ll seek out one
And knock upon its door.

And I will wait there patiently
Until I hear your step, and then

As the worn door swings back, will see
Your face look out again.

And that is all peace means to me
Some day to walk up past the store,

And past the corner chestnut tree,
And knock upon your door.

[91



ON LEAVE IN A STRANGE LITTLE
TOWN

On leave in a strange little town,
Soldiers and sailors are chaffing

With eyes deep and still, faces brown,
Are filling the streets and laughing.

Free from the trenches smother,

And their deafening days and nights,

Some are kissing a happy mother,
Some only stare at the sights.

More and more they come crowding
Till the streets seem full of blue,

Khaki and blue; tired sailors,
Soldiers whose leave is due.
[10]



The Drums in Our Street

For the marching and shooting and drill
ing

Each has received his pay.
After the hating and killing

The men are on leave today;

Their songs ringing sweet and free,
Their laughter sounding bold

On leave in a strange little town
Whose streets are of gold.



SOLDIER LOVE

Soldier love s a wild love, and soldier love s

a glad,
And that is the love he gives to me. And

the love that I give my lad
Is a keen love and a swift love and a gay

love and a blind.
Time enough for weeping when I am left

behind.

Time enough for weeping and counting

motives then,
When the feet of my lad have fallen in step

with the feet of the marching men.
It s the soldier love that he gives me, the

desperate, reckless sort

[12]



The Drums in Our Street

Which comes of knowing that death s abroad
and may gather one in for sport.

Soldier love s a strange love, that only has

today.
Lean, then, from the saddle, and kiss and

ride away !
Now the world is dying, with blood its ways

are wet,
Soldier love s the only love that any lass

may get.



113]



A BOY SOLDIER S PRAYER

God, I have the excitement here,

The thrill, and all the peasants cheering

And crowding in from far and near
She has the silence and her fearing.

And I have youth to make the most
Of this adventure. She is old.

Each perilous hour of mine s a ghost
That haunts her with its news untold.

We only give ourselves, and we

Have songs and drums to keep it high,

Our courage. But the mothers see
Their children go to live or die.

And soon I ll have the trenches, and
The men, the banter and the jesting;
[14]



The Drums in Our Street

The joy Pll hardly understand
Of perilous, wondrous questing.

The search for something great in life,

Some heroism in my soul,
Even in the mud, the noise of strife

There in our crowded hole.

God, don t mind me, I ask of you,
I ve all the comrades, and the lark;

And men, beside me, coming too,
If I must go into the Dark.

*****

But in a house back from the street,
Where honeysuckles with their stir

Make the yard Spring; you ll find a sweet
Tired woman. God, be good to her.



"JOAN, WHO LEADS THE SOLDIERS"

Joan, who leads the soldiers, listen to a

prayer ;
Joan, who heartens fighting men; and

makes them bold to dare,

When the word is given, side by side, as

soldiers may,
All the rain of hate and hell because you

lead the way

You were once a little maid, in the Spring

you had
Pleasure in the bashful words of some

comely lad.

[16)



The Drums in Our Street

If you have not quite forgot, lend a listen
ing ear;

Joan of blessed memory, bend to me and
hear.

Where the tallest men of all, where the

bravest stand,
You will see a stalwart youth, firm of eye

and hand :

(Joan, who leads the soldiers, listen to a

maid !)
You will know him by his eyes, that are not

afraid,

You will know him by his mouth, that is

laughing still.
When from out the angry sky singing

missiles spill,

[17]



The Drums in Our Street

You that lead the soldiers, hold your blessed

arm
Before the face of my own lad, and keep

him safe from harm.



[18]



IN OUR STREET

The war has wakened me to see

The greatness in the clerk across the way,

The high nobility

In my next neighbor whom I never saw

With anything of awe

Until I knew her sons had gone three

tall
And awkward youths. She sings about

the hall

And porch, at sweeping, and is happier
Than all the town. I sometimes look at her
And wonder, and wish that I, too, could be

gay.

The lanky clerk who never seemed to care
About big things he went. There was an air



The Drums in Our Street

Of being on great projects, in his face,
A trace

Of kingliness I d not have thought of there.
There were songs within him, though his
lips were dumb.

Because of these two, I,
Though I am cowardly, try
To keep from weeping when no letters
come



[20]



AT WIPERS AND CALVARY^

The boy who was first to die

For the cause they are fighting for

Links his arm and walks with the lads
Who are going to die in the war.

He bled in agony

A very long time ago.
Now they greet him comradely,

With eyes that newly know.

They are brothers-in-arms in the old,

Old war that is never done;
So with him they jest, as they march and
rest,

In the snow and the mud and the sun,

[21]



The Drums in Our Street

With the boy who was first to die
In the fight to make men free.

For it matters little where one goes out
At Wipers or Calvary.



22]



A CASUALTY LIST

There was always waiting in our mother s

eyes,

Anxiety and wonder and surmise,
Through the long days, and in the longer,

slow,

Still afternoons, that seemed to never go,
And in the evenings, when she used to sit
And listen to our casual talk, and knit.
And when the day was dark and rainy, and
Not fit to be abroad in, she would stand
Beside the window, and peer out and shiver,
As small sleek raindrops joined to make a

river
That rushed, tempestuous, down the window

pane,

[23]



The Drums in Our Street

And say, "I wonder what they do in rain?
Is it wet there in the trenches, do you

think ? "

And she would wonder if he had his ink
And razor blades and toothpaste that she

sent;

And if he read much in his Testament,
Or clean forgot, some mornings, as boys

will.

But always the one wonder in her eyes
Was, "Is he living, living, living, still
Alive and gay ? Or lying dead somewhere
Out on the ground, and will they find him

there?"
She closed her lids each night upon that

look

Of waiting, as a hand might close a book
But never change the words that were

within.

[24]



The Drums in Our Street

And when the morning noises would begin
A new day, and a young sun touched the

skies,

Again she woke with waiting in her eyes.
/

But that is over now. She does not read
The lists of casualties, since that one came
A week or two ago. There is no need.
She s making sweaters now for other men
And knitting just as carefully as then.
There is no change, except that as she plies
Her needles, swift and rhythmic as before,
There is no waiting in our mother s eyes,
Anxiety or wonder any more.



[251



THE NEW PLAYFELLOW

When we were six and seven,

What games we used to know !
What stern adventures centered

Round an arrow and a bow,
Round sticks and stilts and marbles !

And, oh, the pride we knew,
We girls who were admitted

Into the scornful crew

Of crimson-turbaned pirates !

What loyalty our clan
Acknowledged to the leader

And to each maid and man !
A league against the grown-ups,

Our kingdom we d defend,
[26]



The Drums in Our Street

The little land of make-believe,
Beyond the rainbow s end.

When childhood s game was finished,

Still in our little street
/

When Spring came in, how often

We used to laugh and meet
While dusk turned green to blackness,

And blotted out the blue.
(It s Spring ! The blind would know it,

The air s so soft and new.)

But I am very lonely.

The moon goes up the hill
And yet the street that echoed

Is newly, strangely, still;
For, in a foreign country,

(O scent of lilac breath !),
The boys I used to play with

Are playing now with Death.
[27]



EVAN

The war is not in Europe. No. It s here
In our parlor, underneath the chandelier
Where Evan used to sit, and hold his head
Within his hands, a problem there before

him
He couldn t make the thing come right, he

said.
It was natural to watch him studying there.

There s no one sitting now in Evan s chair;
It s curious not to see that shock of hair
And those hunched shoulders. No, he isn t

dead,
At least, we haven t heard so yet; he s

only

[28]



The Drums in Our Street

Across there, with the Engineers, and writes
Often enough. We read them here at

nights,

The letters, and the natural, commonplace
Smudged sentences make changes in each

face.

Twould be ingratitude to say we re lonely :
We ve all the girls here yet, and they are

good

And gentle, doing calmly, as they should,
The chores of living. And we ve all we

need,
Or maybe more, to eat and wear and read.

We have each other and the girls. Then

he
Likes the excitement there, he writes, and

we

[29]



The Drums in Our Street

Must not feel worried, for he s fine and fit,
And proud to be out there and do his bit.
It s strange that I should mind, should fret

or fear
Or feel the war is not in France, but here



[30]



WAR

We d not have had the grit to be in love

Had not war given a shove

To our slow cautiousness, and made us

know

That there is no tomorrow anywhere
That those who care
Should not take chances so.
And so we married and you went away
To fight. And I am glad we didn t wait.
How queer it is to think it should be hate
And bitterness, that gave the shove
That pushed us into love.



A WAR WEDDING

My life is made of five long nights

And five swift days, like birds whose flights

Have taken them to where the earth
Below them, is a small, strange thing
Of very little worth.

My life is made of five bright days

And five kind nights. I heard you praise

My beauty, in your faint, hushed tone
That no one else has ever heard.
And this is all I own.

Five nights and five strange days, and then
You died to save your fellow-men.

I never lived until I saw

Within your eyes that thirst and awe.

And I shall never live again.
[32]



SPRING SOWS HER SEEDS

Why are you doing it this year, Spring ?
Why do you do this useless thing ?

Do you not know there are no men now ?
Why do you put on an apple bough
Buds, and in a girl s heart, thronging
Strange emotions : fear, and longing,

Eager flight, and shy pursuing,
Noble thoughts for her undoing;

Wondering, accepting, straining,
Wistful seizing, and refraining;

Stern denying, answering?
Why do you toil so drolly, Spring?
[331



The Drums in Our Street

Why do you scheme and urge and plan
To make a girl s heart ripe for a man,

While the men are herded together where
Death is the woman with whom they pair ?

Back fall my words to my listening ear.
Spring is deaf, and she cannot hear.

Spring is blind, and she cannot see.
She does not know what war may be.

Spring goes by, with her age-old sowing
Of seeds in each girl s heart; kind, un
knowing.

And, too, in my heart, (Spring, oh, heed !)
Now in my own has fallen a seed.

(Spring, give over !) I cringe, afraid.
(Though I suffer, harm no other maid !)

[34]



The Drums in Our Street

I hide my eyes, a budding tree
Is so terrible to see.

I stop my ears, a bird song clear
Is a dreadful thing to hear.

Seeds in each girl s heart she goes throwing.
Oh, the crop of pain that is growing!



[351



SMITH, OF THE THIRD OREGON,
DIES

"Autumn in Oregon is wet as Spring,
And green, with little singings in the grass,

And pheasants flying,
Gold, green and red,
Great, narrow, lovely things,
As if an orchid had snatched wings.
There are strange birds like blots against a sky

Where a sun is dying.

Beyond the river where the hills are blurred
A cloud, like the one word
Of the too-silent sky, stirs, and there stand

Black trees on either hand.

Autumn in Oregon is wet and new
As spring,

[36]



The Drums in Our Street

And puts a fever like Spring s, in the cheek
That once has touched her dew
And it puts longing too
In eyes that once have seen
Her season-flouting green,

And ears that listened to her strange birds
speak.

"Autumn in Oregon I ll never see
Those hills again, a blur of blue and rain
Across the old Willamette. I ll not stir
A pheasant as I walk, and hear it whirr
Above my head, an indolent, trusting

thing.

When all this silly dream is finished here,
The fellows will go home, to where there

fall

Rose-petals over every street, and all
The year is like a friendly festival.

[371



The Drums in Our Street

But I shall never watch those hedges drip
Color, nor see the tall spar of a ship
In our old harbor. They say that I am

dying,

Perhaps that s why it all comes back again ;
Autumn in Oregon, and pheasants flying "



38]



THE MOVIES IN FRANCE

You give me home : the pepper trees
Shaking a little in the breeze,
And rows of swaying palms I close
My eyes before I look at those,
Like praying before food. The high
Great palms like swords against the sky,
The drooping ones that curve and bend,
Are each to homesick eyes, a friend.
The great gray hills of home I see
Before me lie alluringly,
And sunny towns, like those I know.
Familiar buildings, row on row,
A house in shining cool concrete
Like one that stands across the street
From ours, at home ! The acacia stirred
The old way then. My eyes are blurred,
[39]



The Drums in Our Street

The tale ? I do not care or know
What girl and lover come and go
Beneath those trees, upon those hills
What kiss enthralls, or murder thrills
The rest to grieving or delight
For I am home, am home to-night !



YOUNG DEATH

Men always said that Death was old,
A slow, bent man with wrinkled hand

Who with a shining sickle, stern and cold
Went reaping through the land.

But now we have learned bitterly

They only spoke with ignorant tongue.

This year has touched our eyes and now we

see
That Death is fair and young.

With other drilling lads he stands
Shoulder to shoulder in the street,

As stern his mouth as theirs, as quick his

hands,
As eager his young feet.



The Drums in Our Street

Above their heads there hang the prayers
Of mothers. Boyish hearts beat bold.

Ah, hardly can we tell his face from

theirs. . . .
Would God that Death were old!



[42



SCHOOLMATES

He came a thousand miles to spend an hour

With me before his unit went to France.

I saw that he was changed in that first
glance.

This boy whom I had known at college
had

A different look not sad,

But thoughtful. There was not the old-
time fear

Of folks, but he was shyer, even so,

Than I remembered him a year ago.

His eyes were very clear

I think from being

The long days in the open;

From early sleep, perhaps from early rising,
[43]



The Drums in Our Street

And then from seeing
That young recruit so near,
The gay lad, Death, who marches with the
men.

"I m very glad you came," I said, and

then
Asked after the old crowd. "A score or

more

Are killed. Dick s in the aviation corps.
And Roger s flying. Freckles had flat feet
And Bud was under weight." It was a

treat

To hear the way he cussed out every one.
" I haven t heard from Tom for everso.
And Tuttle married that Miss Marsh, you

know."

And then he told me of their food, a jest

About a sergeant and that he liked best

[44]



The Drums in Our Street

Of all, the feeling that one was part, at

last,
After one s puny life, of something vast.

But when the hour was up, we said good-by

And shook hands, friendlywise, and then he
stooped

And kissed me once, as very hungry men

Can seize at food, and then he crushed his
small

Cap in his hands, and, head down, blind,
pellmell

Groped for the open door and somehow
went.

Now Spring is here, and streams and leaf-
buds swell

... I never knew before what April meant.



[451



THE DEAD SON

In an old country,

Far and far away,
A woman went a-weeping

On a fresh Spring day.

A woman went a-weeping,
For she heard birds singing,

And under the hill

There was new grass springing,

"He loved the new grass,
And all the birds," she said;

"He loved the sparrows,
And threw them bread."
[46]



The Drums in Our Street

(Spring in the bush and tree,

In her heart pain),
She wept for her young lad
By bloody hands slain.

She wept for her son

Who had harmed no man,

Who must die for the dark world,
Fulfilling an old plan.

She was but a woman,
And what could she know

Of God s wise weavings ?

"That he should have to go !

"My lad, whom I needed,

Whom I love, night and day!"

She said. And the birds sang
And all the world was gay.

[47]



The Drums in Our Street

To know that he waited

In God s own town
Was little comfort to her.

Slowly down

The road to the village,

With her sobs to smother,
All on a Spring day

Went Mary, His mother.

*****
Now o er a dark world

War holds sway,
And there is sound of sobbing,

This fresh Spring day.

To all weeping mothers

She bends low;
She stretches out her hands to them,

And says, "I know."
[48]



SOUNDS

When Ypres burned, I watched the cloud
That glowed above, and hung,

Pierced from the flaming towns below
By hungry tongue.

There must have been I have forgot
The booming sound of war

I never knew a nightingale
Could sing so clear before.



[491



"HIGHLANDERS, FIX BAYONETS"

His mother never liked that record played.
He liked it, Don, he always seemed to be
Putting that record on, and listening
As if there were some one whispering at his

shoulder,

Standing there, slyly whispering, in his ear
While the record whirred and the song

filled all the room.
And after the sound ceased, he still would

stand,

The sunlight on his yellow hair, and dream
As lads do; and then set the needle and
Hear the whole record thunder through

once more.

It was a gallant-sounding thing, that one,
[50]



The Drums in Our Street

And though I am an old man and should

be

Leaving such things to my grandchildren now,
I liked the manly sound of it myself.



"Listen, grandfather/ he would say, his

voice
Was changing that last summer. We would

wait.
A whirring sound came first; and then the

sharp
Command rang out, in a clear, rousing

tone

Startling, as if upon a battlefield
A harsh commander gave his men the word.
"Highlanders, fix bayonets!" And then

a hush,
And after that the song:



The Drums in Our Street

A loud, full-throated, wondrous fighting-
song,

Line after line of hurrying words to put
New fury into tired fighting-men.

"Terror of death in that blinding run "

Yes, but if there was blood, too, in the song,
And lust of shedding it, why, that s what

war is ;
It can t be helped. I always told her that.

"Look to the shields of the conquering foe,
Crouching again for another blow !
But see the rush of a hundred clans !
Fight as you did at Preston Pans
Highlanders, fix bayonets ! "

I could see
The thrill go running through Don at the

words.
He always seemed to like that record played.



The Drums in Our Street


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