Dreaming On Downs

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Dreaming on Downs  (1929) 
by Robert Ervin Howard
First published in The Poet's Scroll, April 1929.

I marched with Alfred when he thundered forth
To break the crimson standards of the Dane;
I saw the galleys looming in the north
And heard the oar-locks and the sword's refrain.

And far across the pleasant Wessex downs
The chanting of the spearmen broke the lyre,
Till where the black thorn forest grimly frowns
We sang a song of doom and steel and fire.

Death rode his pale horse through the dreaming sky
All through that long red summer afternoon,
And night and silence fell, when silently
The dead men lay beneath a cold white moon.

Now Alfred sleeps with all the swords of yore,
(But o'er the downs a brooding shadow glides)
Untrampled flowers dream along the shore,
And Guthrum's galleys rust beneath the tides.

Now underneath this drowsy tree I lie
And turn old dreams upon my lazy knees,
Till ghostly giants fill the sumer sky
And phantom oars awake the sleeping seas.