Some pause in their grave wandering comradeless,
And turn with profound gesture vague and slow,
As who would pray good for the world, but know
Their benediction empty as they bless.
They say that the Dead die not, but remain
Near to the rich heirs of their grief and mirth.
I think they ride the calm mid-heaven, as these,
In wise majestic melancholy train,
And watch the moon and the still-raging seas,
And men, coming and going on the earth."
At last in his finest poem these reveries rise to an expression worthy of the classics of our language.
THE DEAD (1914)
These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth,
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and furs, and cheeks. All this is ended.
There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies all day. And after,
Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
In wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.
The remoteness and impersonality of this sadness, with the wide horizon and unifying candour, compel our deepest welcome. The effort to startle, allure, or amuse has vanished. No doubt the devotion to England, dwelt on in the other sonnets of the 1914 sequence, won more of the praise; but some who acutely felt his charm were conscious of a falsetto emphasis in those efforts to say the
- Quotations by permission of Brooke's literary representative, E. Marsh, Esq.