What can we give them?

What can we give them – who are old and failing
And sometimes weary of the passing years?
Only our tears and sorrow, unavailing.
With memories of past hopes and present fears.

While these our sons go gaily into the battle
We, who so love them, sit and wait in dread-
Of shreiking shell and the machine guns rattle,
All tense with hope – or fear that they be dead.

Our souls, sore wounded, when our loved one dies
Take comfort from the splendour of the skies.

For there, clear eyed, they look serenely down,
From their high vantage ground beyond the stars.
And having borne the Cross may wear the Crown,
And heal them of their travail and their scars.

They’ll tread again the pleasant paths of Heaven,
For Sacrifice is but its widest gate,
And Mercy is the soul of what was given,
Their gallant souls, whose love will vanquish hate.

Bright gifts we bring to England of our pain,
Oh England – England – take them not in vain.

Charles Corner

* Charles Corner was my maternal Great Grandfather and this poem was written for an anthology put together by my Grandmother, Eleanor Harper (nee Corner) and my father as a memorial to Uncle Teddy (Edward) who was a Lancaster bomber pilot who died in WW2.