Edith Cavell

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Edith Cavell

England’s recruiting poster Joan of Arc,
I was a crypto-Walloon, and a stark

Reminder that when all is said and done
The letter of the law was with the Hun,

Although I rose at once to such renown
As was the Lusitania’s, once down,

If with as little claim to innocence.
All that could be brought forth in my defense

Is that I did not profit from my acts,
And that confession is what guile exacts.

Do not think my examiners were fools,
Or did not judge according to their rules.

It is the rules I fault, and though in days
To come I may be seen as through a blaze

Of Union Jacks and poppies, do I fail
If, unlike fearless Florence Nightingale

Shaking the military in her zeal
To bring the male establishment to heel

I’m seen as only fragile victim-nurse,
Or I-Want-You in posters, which is worse.

I’d sooner I urged Flemings to revolt
Or pacifists in Government to bolt.

Out in the Empire I gave name to streets,
But that was pre-Mahatma. Time deletes.