Lay down your lances in the dust
Though they may be bright and sharp and clean;
They would not so remain; and flecked
With blood they bear a bitter sheen.
Where once your head was eager turned
To meet the bugle’s martial cry
Take to yourself the wind instead
The sound of waves on rock; the high
Thin song of trees, of soughing boughs,
Of wagon wheels that patient turn
Creaking and slow, as homeward bound
They pass the woods, where pine and fern
Make sweet green scent, and clover lies
Like heavenly grass beneath the skies.
Lie down against the good brown earth
Kin to your dust; and know that here
Is rest from strife, and holy peace
And dark still healing for your fear.
Winner of the Canadian Authors’ Association Peace Prize for Poetry, 1936, and published in Poetry Yearbook, 1936. Poetry Group, Canadian Authors’ Association Montreal Branch.
Spring Sunday … In a Small Town
To-day they’re having Church Parade;
The Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides,
The Cubs and the Brownies,
Are all out, full force.
The uncertain, fumbling band begins a staggering march
And off they go, curling in a snaky line
Round the corner from the Market Square,
Under the old town clock.
All the people in town
Seem to have hurried down to one spot
To see their “young hopefuls” swinging past.
They don’t march any too well, either,
But that isn’t noticed.
There they go up the steps of the old gray church
And in at the door.
There isn’t any need for tears pushing up to the surface
But they do!
The peace of it!
The ironic, terrible sense of security,
The threat under the dream!
Let the band play,
Let the children march,
Let the parents weep!
From Tasting the Earth, MacMillan of Canada, 1943
Prayer at Queen and Yonge
What was he thinking,
The young soldier with the empty sleeve
And one foot off,
Watching the long, noisy Conga line
That snaked down Yonge Street?
You couldn’t tell by his eyes.
They were neither interested
Nor excited –
A little tired, maybe,
And sad, surely,
But not interested.
He stood in a safe doorway
And seemed more alone
Than anyone ought to be
On a day of celebration.
And yet, no one ventured to say to him,
“How is it with you …?
What’s the good word, Buddy?”
What he carried in his heart
Was his own quiet business.
If the shell that took his arm and foot
Also took his best friend
Well… your guess was as good as mine.
There were no cheers left in his heart
That much was apparent.
If by any chance he was toting up
What HE had paid for This Day
With his own body
I pray God, that for all the years of his life
He will find it a fair exchange.
Unpublished poem from the late 1940s.
A note on copyright: This work is covered by a Creative Commons Canada Attribution No-Derivatives License. Please feel free to enjoy and share the poetry of Mona Gould. It may be used without cost, providing you acknowledge the author and reproduce the work correctly. Mona Gould’s three books of poetry are available for free download on Project Gutenberg.