Dame Mary Gilmore DBE Poems >>
The Measure

Must the young blood for ever flow?
Shall the wide wounds no closing know?
Is hate the only lantern of the stars,
And honour bastard but to scars?
And yet, the equal sun looks down
On kingly head and broken clown,
And sees, not friend and foe, but man and man,
As when these years began.

These are the days of all men's tears—
Tears like the endless drop that wears
The rock, and rusts the steel, and frets the bones
Of dead men lying under stones;
And, yet, the stars look on the earth
As in the hour of Christ His birth,
And see, not friend and foe, but man and man,
As when these years began.

Weeds on the garden pathways grow
Where the swift feet were wont to go;
Closed are the doors that stood so wide—
The white beds empty, side by side.
But in the woman-breast the milk
Tides under hodden grey and silk,
Knowing nor friend nor foe, but man's child, man,
As when these years began.

O Woman, mother of the sons of earth,
Thou holdst one measure of our worth:
A child's mouth on thy nippled breast;
A child's head on thine arm to rest!
There knowest thou, not friend or foe, but man,
As when these years began.