Io Victis: Ningesser--Coli

OVER the dangerous dim expanse,
World to world in an arch of flight,
Westward hurries the White Bird of France,
Followed afar by the Eastern light.
Nungesser governs its thundering force,
Lord of the French dominions in air.
Coli pilots the perilous course.
Bright are the laurels of Gaul they wear.
Safe through the battle’s fateful hail,
Can it be theirs in the fog to fail?
When shall the White Bird flash into sight?
Myriads lift from the common rôle
Glances that question the day and the night
Time grudges the White Bird to win to its goal.
Questioning, doubting, waiting — in vain.
Lost in the silence of sea and of sky,
No sound is caught from the White Bird again,
No glimpse is given to mortal eye.
Did they fail then, Coli and Nungesser?
They cannot fail who ardently dare.
Courage, the soul of advancement, thrives
Bright in the teeming cells of brain;
Brighter in deeds of fearless lives
Whose glory is the race’s gain.
Onward is the bent of the soul.
Slow is advancement, stage by stage.
Splendid defeat, though death be its toll
Betters the future’s heritage.
Count them as victors, greater than chance,
Coli and Nungesser, sons of France.