A Book of Myths

Page: 3


[Pg xii]


We have come, in those last long months, to date our happenings as they have never until now been dated by those of our own generation.

We speak of things that took place “Before the War”; and between that time and this stands a barrier immeasurable.

This book, with its Preface, was completed in 1914—“Before the War.

Since August 1914 the finest humanity of our race has been enduring Promethean agonies. But even as Prometheus unflinchingly bore the cruelties of pain, of heat and of cold, of hunger and of thirst, and the tortures inflicted by an obscene bird of prey, so have endured the men of our nation and of those nations with whom we are proud to be allied. Much more remote than they seemed one little year ago, now seem the old stories of sunny Greece. But if we have studied the strange transmogrification of the ancient gods, we can look with interest, if with horror, at the Teuton representation of the God in whom we believe as a God of perfect purity, of honour, and of love. According to their interpretation of Him, the God of the Huns would seem to be as much a confederate of the vicious as the most degraded god of ancient worship. And if we turn with shame from the Divinity so often and so glibly referred to by blasphemous lips, and look on a picture that tears our hearts, and yet makes our hearts big with pride, we can understand how it was that those heroes who fought and died in the Valley of the Scamander came in time to be regarded not as men, but as gods.

There is no tale in all the world’s mythology finer than the tale that began in August 1914. How future generations will tell the tale, who can say?

But we, for whom Life can never be the same again, can say with all earnestness: “It is the memory that the soldier leaves behind him, like the long train of light that follows the sunken sun—that is all which is worth caring for, which distinguishes the death of the brave or the ignoble.”

And, surely, to all those who are fighting, and suffering, and dying for a noble cause, the God of gods, the God of battles, who is also the God of peace, and the God of Love, has become an ever near and eternally living entity.

“Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be,
They are but broken lights of Thee,
And Thou, oh Lord, art more than they.”