Ballad of French Rivers

Christopher Morley - 1890-1957
Of streams that men take honour in
    The Frenchman looks to three,
And each one has for origin
    The hills of Burgundy;
And each has known the quivers 
    Of blood and tears and pain—
O gallant bleeding rivers,
    The Marne, the Meuse, the Aisne.

Says Marne: “My poplar fringes
    Have felt the Prussian tread,
The blood of brave men tinges
    My banks with lasting red;
Let others ask due credit,
    But France has me to thank;
Von Kluck himself has said it:—
    I turned the Boche’s flank!”

Says Meuse: “I claim no winning,
    No glory on the stage,
Save that, in the beginning
    I stove to save Liége.
Alas that Frankish rivers
    Should share such shame as mine—
In spite of all endeavours
    I flow to join the Rhine!”

Says Aisne: “My silver shallows
    Are salter than the sea,
The woe of Rheims still hallows
    My endless tragedy.
Of rivers rich in story
    That run through green Champagne,
In agony and glory
    The chief am I, the Aisne!”

Now there are greater waters
    That Frenchmen all hold dear—
The Rhone, with many daughters,
    That runs so icy clear;
There’s Moselle, deep and winy,
    There’s Loire, Garonne and Seine,
But O the valiant tiny—
    The Marne, the Meuse, the Aisne!