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Armistice Day

In an Office, in Paris

The news came through over the telephone:
All the terms had been signed: the War was won:
And all the fighting and the agony,
And all the labour of the years were done.
One girl clicked sudden at her typewriter
And whispered, ‘Jerry’s safe’, and sat and stared:
One said, ‘It’s over, over, it’s the end:
The War is over: ended’: and a third,
‘I can’t remember life without the war.’
And one came in and said, ‘Look here, they say
We can all go at five to celebrate.
As long as two stay on, just for today.’

It was quite quiet in the big empty room
Among the typewriters and little piles
Of index cards: one said, ‘We’d better just
Finish the day’s reports and do the files.’
And said, ‘It’s awf’lly like Recessional,
Now when the tumult has all died away.’
The other said, ‘Thank God we saw it through;
I wonder what they’ll do at home today.’

And said, ‘You know it will be quiet tonight
Up at the Front: first time in all these years.
And no one will be killed there any more,’
And stopped, to hide her tears.
She said, ‘I’ve told you; he was killed in June.’
The other said, ‘My dear, I know; I know …
It’s over for me too … My man was killed,
Wounded … and died … at Ypres … three years ago …
And he’s my Man, and I want him,’ she said,
And knew that peace could not give back her Dead.

May Wedderburn Cannan

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