«Brown Studies» — Poems by G. P. Brown, Punta Arenas, Chile, 1940


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Publisher's Acknowledgment Author's Foreword


Could I forget? The Cross What Profit a Man? May 1940 June 1940 Hyde Park Orators Are You Doing Your Bit? Home The Haven of Love Afterglow The Six Dolls Forget-me-not My Little Ship Mother's Day The Easy Way Mother Flea The Stockings' Lament The Gamble Who Was It? A Mother's Right Teach me to be Humble


Duncan Campbell


T H E   C R O S S

The leaves are now falling – 'tis Autumn
       again, my thoughts turn to nineteen fourteen,
To a sweet little church where we both knelt in
       prayer, pledged our vows to the Maker Unseen;
My eyes seek the Altar – I gaze on the Cross,
       and in my fancy I plead in my pain;
Oh Father of Mercy, have pity on me, and send
       Back my loved one again!

The troopship is leaving - farewells have been
       said - I wave while my eyes grow more dim;
Ah Me! I knew then that his smile was my
       joy, and all joy he had taken with him;
I see but a spectre - grim shape of a gun, clutched
       by manhood who answered "the Call",
Leaving weary worn woman alone with her
       tears - and the Cross to be borne by them all.

It is nineteen fifteen - lovely spring is at hand,
       the trees are now bursting in leaf,
But, instead of the joy that should come to my
       soul, I find in my heart only grief;
The Reaper has passed where the Sower once
       trod, now the harvest is stained crimson red;
Cut down are the flowers - my own with the
       rest, - leaving memories alone of the dead.

God of Pity, forgive me – I cannot quite see,
       why my man should be taken away!
Or why it should always be we that are left, or
       right that a mortal must slay;
I bow to Thy will, gracious Master of all, but
       the Cross is so heavy to bear,
Oh Father, who seeth all things from above,
       my soul now lies buried out there!

Yet, God in His wisdom, knew better than I,
       and in mercy he answered my prayer,
A new life was born in that darkest of hours, a
       fragment of him over there;
New joys were created where dull care had been,
       while the Cross became lighter each day,
The price had been paid for with blood and
       with tears, on that battlefield far, far away.

Oh, wonderful, I see joy in your smile, and
       your sunny brown hair all agleam;
From that little stout heart, full of laughter and
       love, your father peeps through it would seem;
Let me just for a moment hold closely your head,
       while my thoughts wander back for a year,
Close my eyes for a second and have with us
       two, the other who should have been here.

‘Tis Autumn once more, and the leaves slowly
       fall – a score and more years have gone by,
I sit now alone with my thoughts and my dreams,
       and I see all the past drawing nigh;
In vain have I hoped that my boy would be
       spared, but "the Call" has been sounded today;
The Cross now for me is too heavy I fear, Oh
       God, have some pity, I pray!

Ah yes, he was proud, like his father before,
       and willing to carry his share!
But surely 'tis asking too much in one's life,
       for two to be left over there?
Oh God, please forgive if I begged for too much,
       while my weary old eyes grew so dim;
Only twice in my life have I glimpsed at the sun,
       and the last rays, they vanished with him.

Yet, somehow I see, as I gaze in the fire, both
       of them waving me on,
And pride takes the place of the pain in my
       heart, for all that has been and has gone.
As wife and as mother, I've lost and I've gained,
       I’ve suffered – and yet through it all,
I could not have loved them so much had they
       failed – to answer their own country's call.

God guides in His own most mysterious way,
       He moulds with an unerring hand
And we as poor mortals of humble clay, in this
       world may not understand;
Oft’ our pains are but blessings – each teardrop
       a pearl, heavy clouds sometimes herald the sun,
So I'm waiting to join those that passed on before,
       and my heart murmurs: "Thy Will be done!"