by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
In a vision of the night I saw them,
In the battles of the night.
’Mid the roar and the reeling shadows of blood
They were moving like light,
Light of the reason, guarded
Tense within the will,
As a lantern under a tossing of boughs
Burns steady and still.
With scrutiny calm, and with fingers
Patient as swift
They bind up the hurts and the pain-writhen
Untired and defenceless; around them
With shrieks in its breath
Bursts stark from the terrible horizon
But they take not their courage from anger
That blinds the hot being;
They take not their pity from weakness;
Tender, yet seeing;
Feeling, yet nerved to the uttermost;
Keen, like steel;
Yet the wounds of the mind they are stricken with,
Who shall heal?
They endure to have eyes of the watcher
In hell, and not swerve
For an hour from the faith that they follow,
The light that they serve.
Man true to man, to his kindness
That overflows all,
To his spirit erect in the thunder
When all his forts fall,—
This light, in the tiger-mad welter,
They serve and they save.
What song shall be worthy to sing of them
Braver than the brave?