This is the thing we fight:
A cry of terror in the night;
A ship on work of mercy bent—
A carrier of the sick and maimed—
Beneath the cruel waters sent,
And those that did it, unashamed.
A woman who had tried to fill
A mother’s place; had nursed the ill
And soothed the troubled brows of pain
And earned the dying’s grateful prayers,
Before a wall by soldiers slain!
And such a poor pretext was theirs!
Old women pierced by bayonets grim
And babies slaughtered for a whim,
Cathedrals made the sport of shells,
No mercy, even for a child,
As though the imps of all the hells
Were crazed with drink and running wild.
All this we fight—that some day when
Good sense shall come again to men,
Our children’s children may not read
This age’s history thus defamed
And find we served a selfish creed
And ever be of us ashamed!