The Ballad of the Lusitania Babes
By Emerson Hough
God the Father leaned out from Heaven,
His white beard swept His knee;
His eye was sad as He looked far out,
Full on the face of the sea.
Saith God the Father, "In My Kingdom
Never was thing like this;
For yonder are sinless unredeemed,
And they may not enter Our bliss."
And Mary the Mother, She stood near by,
Her eyes full sad and grieved.
Saith Mary the Mother, "Alas! Alas!
That they may not be received.
Now never since Heaven began," saith She,
"Hath sight like this meseemed,
That there be sinless dead below
Who may not be redeemed!"
And Jesu, the Saviour, He stood also,
And aye! His eyes were wet.
Saith Jesu the Saviour, "Since Time began,
Never was this thing yet!
For these be the Children, the Little Ones,
Afloat on the icy sea.
They are doomed, they are dead, they are perished,
And they may not come unto Me!"
They float, forever unburied,
Their faces turned to the sky;
With their little hands uplifted,
And their lips forever cry:
"Oh, we are the helpless murdered ones,
Blown far on the icy tide!
No sin was ours, but through all the days,
On the northern seas we ride.
No cerements ever enshroud us,
We know no roof of the sod;
We float forever unburied,
With our faces turned to God.
"So foul the deed that undid us,
So damned in its dull disgrace,
That even the sea refused us,
And would not give us place.
Nor ever a place in the sky—
We are lost, we are dead, we are perished,
Ah, Jesu, tell us why!"
Now the Three who heard They wept as one,
But Their tears they might not cease.
Saith God the Father, "While unavenged
These may not know Our peace!
When the sons of men are men again,
And have smitten full with the sword,
At last these sinless but unredeemed
Shall enter unto their Lord.
"But deed like this is a common debt;
It lies on the earth-race whole.
Till these be avenged they be unredeemed—
Each piteous infant soul.
We must weep, We must weep, till the debt be paid,
Te debt of the sons of men—
But well avenged, they are aye redeemed;
Ah, how shall We welcome them then!"
Are ye worth the kiss of a woman?
Were ye worth the roof of a womb?
Are ye worth the price of your grave-clothes?
Are ye worth the name on a tomb?
Nay! None of these is your earning,
And none of these be your meed,
If the deathless wail of their yearning
Shall add to your pulse no speed.
Never by hand of a warrior,
Never by act of a man,
Have the Little Ones thus perished,
Since ever that Heaven began.
Such deed and the beings who wrought it—
Ah! deep must the cutting go
To cure the world of the memory
Of the Little Ones in woe.
The Three watch high in Their Heaven,
And aye! the Three be grieved;
The sword is the key of Their Heaven,
If the babes shall be received.
Rise then, men of our banner—
Speak in our ancient tone—
Each of you for his mother,
Each of you for his own!
Smite full and fell and fearless,
Till that these be set free—
These, slain of the foulest slaying
That ever made red the sea.
The sword of the Great Avenger
Is now for the sons of men;
It must redden in errand holy
Till the babes be cradled again.