Jules Bastien-Lepage / Metropolitan Museum of Art

Once, it may be, the soft gray skies were dear,
The clouds above in crowds, like sheep below,
The bending of each kindly wrinkled tree;
Or blossoms at the birth-time of the year,
Or lambs unweaned, or water in still flow,
In whose brown glass a girl her face might see.

Such days are gone, and strange things come instead;
For she has looked on other faces white,
Pale bloom of fear, before war’s whirlwind blown;
Has stooped, ah Heaven! in some low sheltering shed
To tend dark wounds, the leaping arrow’s bite,
While the cold death that hovered seemed her own.

And in her hurt heart, o’er some grizzled head,
The mother that shall never be has yearned;
And love’s fine voice, she else shall never hear,
Came to her as the call of saints long dead;
And straightway all the passion in her burned,
One altar-flame, that hourly waxes clear.

Hence goes she ever in a glimmering dream.
And very oft will sudden stand at gaze,
With blue, dim eyes that still not seem to see:
For now the well-known ways with visions teem;
Unfelt is toil, and summer one green daze,
Till that the king be crowned, and France be free!

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.