You have become a forge of snow-white fire, A crucible of molten steel, O France! Your sons are stars who cluster to a dawn And fade in light for you, O glorious France! They pass through meteor changes with a song Which to all islands and all continents Says life is neither comfort, wealth, nor fame, Nor quiet hearthstones, friendship, wife nor child, Nor love, nor youth's delight, nor manhood's power, Nor many days spent in a chosen work, Nor honored merit, nor the patterned theme Of daily labor, nor the crowns nor wreaths Of seventy years.
These are not all of life, O France, whose sons amid the rolling thunder Of cannon stand in trenches where the dead Clog the ensanguined ice. But life to these Prophetic and enraptured souls in vision, And the keen ecstasy of faded strife, And divination of the loss as gain, And reading mysteries with brightened eyes In fiery shock and dazzling pain before The orient splendour of the face of Death, As a great light beside a shadowy sea; And in a high will's strenuous exercise, Where the warmed spirit finds its fullest strength And is no more afraid, and in the stroke Of azure lightning when the hidden essence And shifting meaning of man's spiritual worth And mystical significance in time Are instantly distilled to one clear drop Which mirrors earth and heaven.
This is life Flaming to heaven in a minute's span When the breath of battle blows the smouldering spark. And across these seas We who cry Peace and treasure life and cling To cities, happiness, or daily toil For daily bread, or trail the long routine Of seventy years, taste not the terrible wine Whereof you drink, who drain and toss the cup Empty and ringing by the finished feast; Or have it shaken from your hand by sight Of God against the olive woods.
As Joan of Arc amid the apple trees With sacred joy first heard the voices, then Obeying plunged at Orleans in a field Of spears and lived her dream and died in fire, Thou, France, hast heard the voices and hast lived The dream and known the meaning of the dream, And read its riddle: how the soul of man May to one greatest purpose make itself A lens of clearness, how it loves the cup Of deepest truth, and how its bitterest gall Turns sweet to soul's surrender.
And you say: Take days for repitition, stretch your hands For mocked renewal of familiar things: The beaten path, the chair beside the window, The crowded street, the task, the accustomed sleep, And waking to the task, or many springs Of lifted cloud, blue water, flowering fields -- The prison-house grows close no less, the feast A place of memory sick for senses dulled Down to the dusty end where pitiful Time Grown weary cries Enough!