Behind Their Lines: Our Mutual Dead

Armistice Day: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the First World War ended.

In 1916, following the death of her older brother, Margaret Sackville wrote a poem imagining that future time when the fighting and killing would cease. Men had made the war – and now it would be left to the grieving women to make the peace.

Reconciliation 
When all the stress and all the toil is over, 
And my lover lies sleeping by your lover. 
With alien earth on hands and brows and feet. 
Then we may meet. 
Moving sorrowfully with uneven paces, 
The bright sun shining on our ravaged faces, 
There, very quietly, without sound or speech, 
Each shall greet each. 
We who are bound by the same grief for ever, 
When all our sons are dead may talk together, 
Each asking pardon from the other one 
For her dead son. 
With such low, tender words the heart may fashion, 
Broken and few, of kindness and compassion, 
Knowing that we disturb at every tread 
Our mutual dead.
Margaret Sackville, published in The Pageant of War, 1916

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