Between the brown hands of the server lad
The silver cross was offered to be kissed.
The men came up, lugubrious, but not sad,
And knelt, reluctantly, half-prejudiced
(And kissing, kissed the emblem of a creed.)
Then mourning women knelt; meek mouths they had
(And kissed the body of the Christ indeed.)
Young children came, with eager lips an glad.
(These kissed a silver doll, immensely bright.)
Then I, too, knelt before that acolyte.
Above the crucifix I bent my head:
The Christ was thin, and cold, and very dead:
And yet, I bowed, yea, kissed - my lips did cling
(I kissed the warm live hand that held the thing.)
--Wilfrid Owen (1893-1918)
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