Whence comes the rain that ceaselessly doth fall,
And seems to hold the bitter taste of tears?
Is it the lonely sorrow of the night
Where patient women shed their hopes and fears?
Where mothers' hearts, that are too brave to break,
Cry in the silence what they hid by day;
As from the tear-drenched pillow they arise,
Proud with the dawn, and shut their grief away?
Whence comes the rain? Is it from Angel eyes
That from the neutral plains of Heaven gaze
Upon this tortured earth? They hear us pray,
And see our strife, in pity and amaze;
Calling on Him, again so crucified,
In divers tongues each righteous cause to care;
Rage unto rage, hate unto hate, doth shake
The doors of Heaven with its impòtent prayer.
And shall my cry be heard, that calls so faint,
Through scream of shell and mighty cannon's roar,
Through thunder of the voices that appeal
For His protection at God's closèd door?
'Comfort the women, Lord, my neutral prayer
May reach Thy pity where those others fail;
Comfort the women in these warring lands
Who through the battles go, helpless and frail.'
Dim are their eyes that watch the marching past
Of all the splendid manhood and strong youth,
Breaking their hearts, who are so proudly still
Lest their beloved should suffer at the truth.
'Twas not for this barbarity of war
The mother breathless hung by the small cot
That held her man-child, fearing lest a wind
Would blow too chill, or sun would shine too hot.
Or stayed her swifter feet so he might run
Not lost behind, and with all gentle hand
Holding him hers, who now has left her lone.
Comfort the mothers, Lord, through each sad land.
Protect the women—they so helpless slain
By each sharp sword that strikes a dear one down,
Who on the battlefield in spirit go
Without the war's red splendour or renown.
Lord, 'mid this discord of Thy Christian world,
'Mid the loud praying of men's hopes and fears,
Comfort the women, let this cry be heard,
For Thou hast known a human mother's tears.
Dora Sigerson Shorter