A Ballad Of French Rivers

Of streams that men take honor in

The Frenchman looks to three,

And each one has for origin

The hills of Burgundy;

And each has known the quivers

Of blood and tears and pain--

O gallant bleeding rivers,

The Marne, the Meuse, the Aisne.

Says Marne: "My poplar fringes

Have felt the Prussian tread,

The blood
of brave men tinges

My banks with lasting red;

Let others ask due credit,

But France has me to thank;

Von Kluck himself has said it:

I turned the Boche's flank!"

Says Meuse: "I claim no winning,

No glory on the stage;

Save that, in the beginning

I strove to save Liége.

Alas! that Frankish rivers

Should share such shame as mine--

In spite of all endeavors

I flow to join the Rhine!"

Says Aisne: "My silver shallows

Are salter than the sea,

The woe of Rheims still hallows

My endless tragedy.

Of rivers rich in story

That run through green Champagne,

In agony and glory,

The chief am I, the Aisne!"

Now there are greater waters

That Frenchmen all hold dear--

The Rhone, with many daughters,

That runs so icy clear;

There's Moselle, deep and winy,

There's Loire, Garonne and Seine.

But O the valiant tiny--

The Marne, the Meuse, the Aisne!


* * * * *

A river is the most human and companionable of all inanimate things. It

has a life, a character, a voice of its own; and is as full of

good-fellowship as a sugar-maple is of sap. It can talk in various

tones, loud or low; and of many subjects, grave or gay.