The Fallen Soldier

Letter from Red Criss Files  

                  By Paula Fitzgerald

To Cyril*

All through the years have we not seen your eyes
Searching ours as if in mute appeal-
And a voice – my soul's – within me cries,
'Brother of laughter! You whose merry ways
Echo in memories of our childhood days
Help us to find the ideal in the real.'

For all our dreams are shadows, and the thread
Which once we spun hangs broken from the loom-
And myriad hopes have bloomed that now are dead!
Out of the past I seem to see your hand
Reaching to shelter mine as here I stand,
Where all is silence in this darkened room.
Brother of laughter, you who were not grave,
Help us to follow on in being as brave!

'Dieu Et Mon Droit' graven on your belt
With Britain's Lion triumphing near the Crown-
And this cap- make your presence doubly felt
As thus I closely hold what was your own.

I go for comfort to cathedral walls,
Light up a candle – calling on your name;
And where the Sacred Mystery enthralls,
My prayers arise in sheath of upward flame.

And this I pray – the pure wax to lend
Its virgin brilliance, burning till the end
Unceasingly towards our meeting place
To radiate the welcome on your face!


Paul Fitzgerald (1941)

* Cyril Fitzgerald was Paula FitzGerald's younger brother.  He was killed in action in 1918. Click here to read more of his story.  

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Today I laid me down beside my dear,

And scanned the beauty of his sleeping face:

I knew him mine,  not separate, but near-

We two alone within a secret place.

I broken was – with heart drained dry of tears

And wished to be made whole, a being complete,

For loss had whipped me through the passing years,

And there were marks of chains upon my feet.

Then timidly, I touched both cheek and hand-

Nay, breathed the very intake of his breast,

And turned to him that he might understand

The tumult to be stilled – the need for rest.

For love knows there is nothing more than this-

The merging of two souls within a kiss.


                                                 Paula Fitzgerald, 1941 


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From    The Seventh Child


I am the seventh child

And my parents loved me well;

They gave me the silver of seven stars-

And the chime of a crystal bell.

My father gave me a penny-

(He would not give me gold;)

And he led me up to the bookshelves,

And said, 'Here is wealth untold.'


My father kissed my forehead-

And my mother stroked my hair;

And they wished me well yet were fearful

I would stumble on many a stair.


I was the silent one;

Who dreamt, who wept – who prayed;

I was the seventh child who a worry of living made,

For I dwelt with an unknown shadow;

On an unknown pathway laid.


'Oh father, what do you fear?

Oh mother, I see you crying;

Oh mother, what do you hear?

And why are you always sighing?'


I played my poems to my father

In a room with a carpet of blue;

He loved to hear my music,

For music he always knew….

He sang with a tenor voice

Making our hearts rejoice,

In a room of seven mirrors,

With walls that were palest gold;

And here my mind like a flower

Was taught to bloom and unfold.




'Will our strange child be a poet?

Will her young heart break in two?

For Beauty that comes to a seventh child

Is a burden given to few…..





.......And all that I loved and wanted

God took away from me…

I was the seventh child

And grief was my destiny….




I was the seventh child

With the wild blood in my veins-

The blood of my Irish forebears

Who wandered the emerald plains….

But when I come to the last blue hill

That cannot be far away,

I shall find the ones whom in life I lost-

And hear the angels say:


'Here is coming the seventh child

With tears in her Irish eyes;

Let us lead her to those who loved

In this haven where nobody dies…’




And because I am the seventh child,

I will climb on my father's knee….

Oh, mother, I want to sing my songs

For you both through eternity.


Paula Fitzgerald (1972)

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The Dark Stranger


Who can it be who walks by the river?

Walks by the river at close of the day?

He does not speak, but I hear a voice calling,

Calling the seagulls from far, far away.


Who can it be who walks by the river?

His silver-dark footprints are beckoning ahead;

They lead me to sorrow for I am lamenting

The ones who have gone and the tears they have shed.


Who can it be who walks by the river?

The Didgeridoo is breaking my heart.

I must be going, and leave all the shimmer-

The glitter of neons of which I am part.


Who can be calling me down to the river?

For I hear someone crying and sobbing alone,

Faintly a shadow is rippling the water,

Ripping the water before it is gone.


Paula Fitzgerald (1967)

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