Will you come back to us, men of our hearts, to-night In the misty close of the brief October day? Will you leave the alien graves where you sleep and steal away To see the gables and eaves of home grow dark in the evening light? O men of the manor and moated hall and farm, Come back to-night, treading softly over the grass; The dew of the autumn dusk will not betray where you pass; The watchful dog may stir in his sleep but he'll raise no hoarse alarm. Then you will stand, not strangers, but wishful to look At the kindly lamplight shed from the open door, And the fire-lit casement where one, having wept you sore, Sits dreaming alone with her sorrow, not heeding her open book. Forgotten awhile the weary trenches, the dome Of pitiless Eastern sky, in this quiet hour When no sound breaks the hush but the chimes from the old church tower, And the river's song at the weir,—ah! then we will welcome you home. You will come back to us just as the robin sings Nunc Dimittis from the larch to a sun late set In purple woodlands; when caught like silver fish in a net The stars gleam out through the orchard boughs and the church owl flaps his wings. We have no fear of you, silent shadows, who tread The leaf-bestrewn paths, the dew-wet lawns. Draw near To the glowing fire, the empty chair,—we shall not fear, Being but ghosts for the lack of you, ghosts of our well-beloved dead.
This poem is in the public domain.