Over the Bridge I-V



Over the Bridge by W.S.Vernon, verses I-V, VI-X, XI-XV, XVI-XX, XXI-XXV, XXV-XXX

OVER the bridge of seven ways,
Where seven rivers flow,
Where men of courage fought for praise
That others did not know,
I once did linger, sadly-dazed,
While time moved to-and-fro.

Amid the remnants of our Age
Stood I upon that barren bridge
The ugly motives of men’s rage
With all base use and privilege
The sound of battle filled my ears,
Of man’s unnatural tutorage.

Some were known as skymen,
Who were like an evening star,
Glistening there for but a while,
Then fade away, quite singular:
Their home is now Nijmegen,
But their glory travels far!

As stood there, motionless,
And with a glassy-eye,
I heard the cries of wantonness,
Of pain, and men that die:
Their hearts were filled with sudden hate
None knew the reason why!

Over the bridge of seven ways,
Where seven rivers flow,
There lies a field of many days
That men have ceased to know,
Where little crosses to know,
Where little crosses mark the graves,
While Time moves to-and-fro.

I

O LAY me down on yonder hill,
Beneath a cloudless sky,
To render there my deepest will,
Betwixt my God and I.

Nature shall my soul absorb
Into her gentle, flowing stream,
And I will leave this phantom orb
This raging substance of a dream!

But what if I should wake again
Within a much more troubled sphere,
Where life is bled of human pride,
And time eternity!

II

TOO empty are the wayward winds,
Too forward is the sky,
We came here not to hide our sins,
We came here but to die.

The earth was black with ashes,
We had no time for tears
Across our minds it flashes,
Those fast and troubled years!

That man and I had jumped together,
‘See you in. Hell’ he said,
One minute parted us forever,
The next and he was dead.

Ten thousand dropped, eight thousand stayed,
Though there we all have died,
Of senseless forms companions made,
Lying, side-by-side.

III

SEPTEMBER is the month they say
When leaves of Autumn change their hue,
Then later they but fall away
That other leaves may follow through.

But Autumn leaves and blood are red,
They both preclude an end,
Each year the leaves of Autumn shed
Upon the likeness of my friend.

He shed his blood to share the shame
Common now to all mankind,
The lust for power, glory, fame,
With all the vices thus combined.

The guns they did not cease
To scream their message far and wide,
I said, ‘they ought to keep the peace,’
They laughed; and then they died.

IV

THE hand of fate we could not stop,
We knew our destination well
But never knew that we would drop
Into that nameless hell!

They lay in wait, we did not know,
We thought that we had come alone,
But Death had come as passenger to sow
His seeds of stone.

Guns by night, guns by day,
The mortars never did let up,
Some men knelt alone to pray,
Yet none refused the cup.

We laid our dead in open rows,
And heaped them in a nameless grave,
No longer had they any foes
They had none but the grave.

V

WITH every mortal minute that passed
There passed a silence too;
The silent death of men who asked
No more than I or you.

They had their faults, we knew they had,
But they had friendship’s truest blood,
And died quite happy with the lad
That called them ‘mates’, as any would.

Some men cried for other men,
Who could not shed a tear,
They knew they would remember them
Through each succeeding year.

You’ve heard it said ‘the good die young’,
‘Tis rightly so, and true,
But old and young they died alike among
The likes of you.

We found a chap, but twenty-one,
In a field not far from here,
We did but he was headless; alone
He still lies buried there.

Over the Bridge by W.S.Vernon, verses I-V, VI-X, XI-XV, XVI-XX, XXI-XXV, XXV-XXX