The Girl behind the Man behind the Gun
Wilson MacDonald, Song of the Prairie Land and Other Poems (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1918): 124-25. Internet Archive
2You have heard the band blare out Britannic songs;
3You have read a ton of papers and you've thrown them at your feet,
4And your brain's a battlefield for fighting throngs.
6You have praised the French and Belgians, every one.
7But I'm rhyming here a measure to the valor and the pluck
8Of the Girl Behind the Man Behind the Gun.
9There's a harder game than fighting; there's a deeper wound by far
10Than the bayonet or the bullet ever tore.
11And a patient, little woman wears upon her heart a scar
12Which the lonesome years will keep for evermore.
13There are bands and bugles crying and the horses madly ride.
14And in passion are the trenches lost or won.
15But SHE battles in the silence, with no comrade at her side,
16Does the girl behind the man behind the gun.
17They are singing songs in Flanders and there's music in the wind;
18They are shouting for their country and their king.
19But the hallways yearn for music in the homes they left behind,
20For the mother of a soldier does not sing.
21In the silence of the night time, 'mid a ring of hidden foes.
22And without a bugle cry to cheer her on.
23She is fighting fiercer battles than a soldier ever knows;
24And her triumph--is an open grave at dawn.
25You have cheered the line of khaki swinging grandly down the street,
26But you quite forgot to cheer another line.
27They are plodding sadly homeward, with no music for their feet,
28To a far more lonely river than the Rhine.
29Ah! the battlefield is wider than the cannon's sullen roar;
30And the women weep o'er battles lost or won.
32For the girl behind the man behind the gun.
33When the heroes are returning and the world with flags is red,
34When you show the tattered trophies of the war,
35When your cheers are for the living and your tears are for the dead
36Which the foeman in the battle trampled o'er.
37When you fling your reddest roses at the horsemen in array,
38With their helmets flaming proudly in the sun,
39I would bid you wear the favor of an apple-blossom spray
40For the girl behind the man behind the gun.
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
Copyright © Ann McLauchlan (daughter of Wilson MacDonald). Written permission is required to republish the poem.