The Soldiers' Edition of the Oxford Mirror was transcribed by Janet Brandt.
Dear mother, when I read each tender phrase,
Each throbbing line of love you write to me.
My heart grows sad, and oft I count the days
Until at last I shall sail o’er the sea
Back, back to you and home and all I love,
And once I curse the fate that placed me here.
But, lo! I caught a vision from above
That steeled my heart with patience, mother dear.
Before my thought were dark with fancied wrongs
Of plans miscarried and of work undone,
I heard faint echoes of the old home songs
And glimpsed your loving faces, one by one,
I knew your troubles--that I could not ease—
I suffered at the worry in your heart.
I prayed to come, I prayed to cheer you all
And in reunion let our hearts rejoice,
All useless seemed the changeless game we played
Of endless labor, unremitting drill.
It seemed ‘twould be far better had I stayed
At home with you, who love and need me still.
And then I caught a vision from the skies
Of why we fight and suffer and are sad!
I saw the reason for our sacrifice,
And seeing, lo! my heart grew strong and glad
That I was in the ranks to fight and die,
If need be, for the millions yet unborn!
I saw the Belgian women as they lie.
The spoils of Hunnish lust, undone and torn!
Their children lifting mutilated arms
And babies caught upon the bayonet;
Their aged mothers, slaving on the farms
To feed the German hordes unconquered yet!
I saw the towns of desolated France,
The fruiting trees destroyed in senseless hate!
Oh, mother, these I saw as in a trance,
And others that my lips dare not relate!
Oh, think if we lived in Belgium then!
If France had been our home! Oh, God on High.
To picture You the toy of brutish men,
Our home destroyed, my loved ones left to die!
I see – I see at last – the reason why
We must forget the little things of life
And dry our tears and stifle every cry,
Whatever pain may issue from the strife!
Why we must battle on, with ne’er a thought
But Victory, nor stop to count the cost.
Until a sweeter Liberty is wrought
From out the old, which was so nearly lost!
My mother, cheer your heart and dry your tears,
For afterwhile, God willing, I’ll return.
We sacrifice today that through the years,
We may enjoy the peace for which we yearn.
Forget all cares, forget all minor things;
Today we labor and tomorrow rest!
We fight for every mother as she sings
Her babe to sleep upon her throbbing breast!
We battle for the Womanhood of Earth,
For Liberty, for Honor and for Right!
Be proud, oh, mother dear, that you gave birth
To one who lived to enter such a fight!