For remembrance: soldier poets who have fallen in the war/Chapter 5

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Humbly, O England, we offer what is of little worth,
Just our bodies and souls and everything else we have;
But thou with thy holy cause wilt hallow our common earth,
Giving us strength in the battle—and peace, if need, in the grave.

What finally emerges from the songs of all these dead singers is a gracious but unconquerable spirit of humanity—a sane, civilised spirit, common to them all, that hated war with a hatred that was only strengthened and intensified by contact with the horrors and primeval barbarities of it. The burden of their singing is always that they fight, not for fighting's sake, but to break the last stronghold of ancient savagery, to enthrone Right above Might, to blaze a trail through the dark forest by which the men of to-morrow may find their way into a new and happier world where war shall be no more. From the heights of their idealism this was the hope, the promised land that they could see. They did not expect to reach it themselves; theirs was only that far-off Pisgah-view of it; but they were touched with pride in the thought that they were privileged to give their lives that through them it might remain an inheritance for the generations yet to come. This was all that mattered, and for themselves—

My day was happy—and perchance
The coming night is full of stars,

writes Richard Dennys, in one of his Ballads of Belgium, and in another,

Death flies by night, Death flies by day,
He calls the gay, he calls the sad,
And if he summon me away,
Be sure my going will be glad.

Life had not offered an easy road to Major John E. Stewart; from his boyhood he had fought bravely against poverty and circumstance and won by hard work every honour that came to him. He proved his capacity at school, took his M.A. degree at Glasgow University, and settled down as a teacher at Langloan Public School, Coatbridge. But within a month of the declaration of war he saw his duty clear, threw everything aside and joined the Highland Light Infantry as a private. He received a commission after two months' service, and was attached to a Border Regiment, in which he rose to be captain and adjutant. Presently, with the rank of major, he was transferred to the South Lancashire Regiment. By then he had seen much fighting in France. He had been given the command of a battalion of the Staffordshire Regiment when he met his death in action on the 26th February 1918. Two years before that he had won the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery in the field. He had written a good deal of prose and verse in peace-time for many periodicals, and from more than one poem in Grapes of Thorns, the book of verse he published in 1917, you may know in what mind he went to his death—

If I should fall upon the field
And lie among the slain,
Then mine will be the victory
And yours the pain;
For this in prospect comforts me
Against all saddening fears
That, dying so, I make myself
Worthy your tears.

He puts into 'The Messines Road' that burning sympathy for France and resolve to right the wrongs she is enduring which fired so many of our men who have fallen in her defence, and none has paid her higher or more splendid tribute than he laid at the feet of her heroes in his song of 'Verdun.' There is a striking 'Ode of the Poet' in which he speaks of how, amid the hell of modern battle, the bard of these days laughs at Homer and the sheltered muse of Tennyson, and foresees that a new poet shall yet arise to sing the new Iliad, that he might be with us unknown at that hour, enduring all the agonies and horrors of a war that shall live for ever in the song he shall make when, in some future quietness, he can look back and remember.

Or haply in the silent womb of Time
Stirs the elected spirit to this hour,
He who will build for us the lofty rhyme,
Wearing a god-like vision as his dower,
Wise in the things that he has learned in Heav'n,
And wiser even than he who here has striven
For that he sees as the holy angels see
The foolishness we deem felicity,
And all the dreadful things beneath the sun
Which we have made to grieve the holy One.
He with His scales
Shall justly weigh us out our due,
And winnow with His righteous flails
The chaff from out the crop we grew.
But this is sure, howe'er it be,
We shall not face ashamedly
The reckoning. For all the price
Of our poor faults is doubly paid
In valour and in sacrifice.
Who, then, of judgment is afraid?

Loathing war, yet seeing no honourable way of avoiding it, he faced the worst manfully, fearing no enemy and afraid only lest he should show fear when death seemed imminent and give those he loved cause to be ashamed of him, but—

Lo, when I joined the fight,
And bared my breast
To all the darts of that wild, hellish night,
I only stood the test,
For Fear, which I had feared, deserted then,
And forward blithely to the foe I prest,
King of myself again.

Blessed be God above
For His sweet care,
Who heard the prayers of those whom most I love
And my poor suppliance there,
Who brought me forth in life and limb all whole,
Who blessed my powers with His divine repair,
And gave me back my soul!

A far other war-song this, far nobler in its humility and more courageous than the brazen, sounding rhymes that our civilian war-poets used to sing for us!

It was nothing strange that these men, nurtured in peace, reared wholly in the gentler arts of life, should have entered so suddenly into the new and abhorrent atmosphere of war, haunted, more or less, by premonitions that they would never return. This premonition recurs in the verse of most of them and is accepted sometimes stoically and as a matter of course, sometimes with regret or with bitterness, but without dread, and sometimes in an eager and lofty spirit of self-sacrifice. Something of this sense of doom is in Geoffrey Bache Smith's later poems, but it leaves him untroubled, and when he hints at it it is with a calm, serene philosophy. He gave evidence of literary ability while he was still a student at King Edward's School, Birmingham. In 1912 he was elected to a History Exhibition at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and took up residence there in October of that year. He was looking forward to devoting himself to literature as a profession when the war, at a stroke, shattered all his plans, and he at once joined the Oxford O.T.C. In January 1915 he obtained a commission in the Oxford and Bucks Regiment, but was transferred to the 19th Lancashire Fusiliers and went with them to France in November 1915. He had a hard winter in the trenches and was in the thick of the fighting in July 1916. His letters home show how profoundly he was impressed by the horrors of war, but his native cheerfulness never failed him; his humour and good spirits were proof against all the darkness and danger of his surroundings. After the Somme advance he was made intelligence officer, and then adjutant. While walking down a village street on 29th November 1916, he was struck by a fragment of a stray shell; the wound seemed slight but became septic, and he died three days later. Shortly afterwards his brother was killed in Mesopotamia, and they were the only sons of their mother, who was a widow.

His earlier poems are filled with the sweetness of common life, or the dreams and glamour of old romance, the longest and one of the best of them, 'Glastonbury,' steeped in the light and atmosphere of far-off days, being an Arthurian legend of the repentance of Lancelot. In 'A Preface for a Tale I never Told' he says that in it there shall be

No song
That men shall sing in battle and remember
When they are old and grey, beside the fire:
Only a story gathered from the hills,
And the wind crying of forgotten days....

Of the beauty and the happiness of the 'old quiet things' of life all his poetry was fashioned till the war broke through his dreams and, with 'We who have Bowed Ourselves to Time,' he bade farewell to them:

...We who have led, by gradual ways,
Our placid life to sterner days,
And for old quiet things
Have set the strife of kings,

Who battled have with bloody hands
Through evil times in barren lands,
To whom the voice of guns
Speaks but no longer stuns,

Calm, though with death encompassed,
That watch the hours go overhead,
Knowing too well we must
With all men come to dust....

And in 'Anglia Valida in Senectute' glimmers a knowledge that not only the beauty and happiness of the world are passing away from him:

We are old, we are old, and worn and school'd with ills,
Maybe our road is almost done,
Maybe we are drawn near unto the hills
Where rest is and the setting sun.

He cannot, in the trenches, remember Oxford but the thought intrudes:

A little while, and we are gone;
God knows if it be ours to see
Again the earliest hoar-frost white
On the long lawns of Trinity.

Counting over his comrades who have fallen, he wonders:

How far now to the last of battles?
(Listen, the guns are loud to-night!)

Whatever comes, I will strike once surely,
Once because of an ancient tryst,
Once for love of your dear dead faces
Ere I come unto you, Shapes in the mist.

His prayer is:

O God, the God of battles,
To us who intercede
Give only strength to follow
Until there 's no more need;
And grant us at that ending
Of the unkindly quest
To come unto the quiet isles
Beyond Death's starry West;

and his comfort is that there are still men who, fearing nothing,

Love home above their own hearts' blood
And honour more than life.

In one of those letters from which I have already quoted, Harold Parry writes to his father, on 13th February 1916, 'I saw in the Mirror for Wednesday or Thursday a photograph of one of Mr. D——'s friends, H. R. F., an Exonian and poet of no mean ability. He paid the final price on 24th January, and England has lost another of the men who would have been a greater credit to her in life than they can be even in this most glorious death. Tell Dorothy he wrote in various of the volumes of Oxford poetry, and I should like her to get the Mirror to see how much F—— and Mr. D—— were of a type—both brilliant and intellectual, driven to war by a sense of duty.' The H. R. F. referred to is Hugh Reginald Freston who, like Harold Parry, went from Oxford into the Army. When he left Dulwich College to become an undergraduate at Exeter College Freston's intention had been to fit himself for taking holy orders, but before long he relinquished this purpose, feeling irresistibly drawn to a literary career. There is high promise in the work he has done; he had a quiet confidence in his powers and great hope of his future; but as soon as the war was upon us, he allowed no personal interests to restrain him from what he conceived to be his duty. After he had trained in the O.T.C. he was made a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and though he had no liking for the new life upon which he had entered, he gave himself up to it completely and enthusiastically—'doing the thing he loathed for the thing he loved.' Early in December 1915 he was in France; a few weeks later he took his place in the front lines, and after ten days of trench fighting, was killed. These lines, which are among the poems collected into his posthumous volume, The Quest of Truth, might have been inspired by some strange fore-knowledge of the manner of death he was to die:

Suddenly a great noise shall fill my ears,
Like angry waters or the roar of men;
I shall be dizzy, faint with many fears;
Blindly my hands shall clutch the air—and then
I shall be walking 'neath the quiet skies,
In the familiar land of former years,
Among familiar faces. I shall arise
In that dear land where there are no more tears

—for it was so death came to him. He was inspecting a dug-out which had been shelled when several shells came over and one struck him and, engulfed instantly in its burst of noise and darkness, 'from that moment,' writes his commanding
For remembrance, soldier poets who have fallen in the war, Adcock, 1920 DJVU pg 183.jpg


officer, 'he was dead, although he breathed a few times—no suffering.'

The premonition that he was destined to die for his ideals, that he was plainly called to lay down his life for his country and the cause that was his and hers, is in other of Freston's poems, as it is in those of many of his comrades. It is in his 'Departure,' in 'When I am Dead,' in 'Two Nights'—

And I laugh to hear the bugles, but I weep to hear the bells,
For I know the bells of Oxford will ring no more for me—

It is in 'April 1915,' and again in 'October 31st, 1915,' written not long before he left England for the last time:

After I am dead,
And have become part of the soil of France,
This much remember of me:
I was a great sinner, a great lover, and life puzzled me very much.
Ah, love! I would have died for love!
Love can do so much both rightly and wrongly.
It remembers mothers and little children,
And lots of other things.
O men unborn, I go now, my work unfinished!
I pass on the problem to you: the world will hate you: be brave!

And more movingly and with a deeper sense of conviction it speaks through 'The Gift,' where he offers himself in sacrifice without asking why, for in his heart he knows:

...There is a certain ancient city, where he once was free and young,
(But he leaves it now for you),
Where Oxford tales are spoken, and Oxford ways are sung,
(But he leaves them now for you),
And his heart is often weary for that dear old river shore
And he thinks a little sadly of the days that come no more
(But he gives them up for you).

If his dust is one day lying in an unfamiliar land,
(England, he went for you)
O England, sometimes think of him, of thousands only one,
In the dawning, or the noonday, or the setting of the sun
(As once he thought of you),
For to him, and many like him, there seemed no other way
(England, he asked not why)
But the giving up of all things for ever and for aye,
(England, he asked not why),
And so he goes unshrinking from those dearest paths of home,
For he knows, great-hearted England, let whatever fate may come,
You will never let him die!

Leonard Niell Cook, a Rugby and Oxford boy who had newly exchanged his student's gown for khaki, writing of 'Plymouth Sound,' tells how from the greensward he looked out across the sea he was on the eve of crossing, heard the harbour gun sound at sunset, saw

The homing traffic on the water's breast
Fold up their tawny wings and take their rest,

and, with the stars rising above him and 'God's quietness' about him, he thought of how soon he would be yonder in 'the gloomy courts of Fear' destined to be cut down,

Perchance to crown the pallid brow of Death.

In the 'Envoi,' addressed to his parents before he went out from Edinburgh, Hamish Mann writes:

Be calm. I follow where my friends have gone.
Have nought to fear,
I go to herald in the Glorious Dawn
Which breaks not here.

Be brave. A myriad mothers' sons before
Have trod this path...

and he bids them to be proud in his pride and only pray that when his hour comes there may be no stain upon his honour.

This is the end of Charles Masefield's song of his 'Sailing for Flanders':

We have put life away and spurn the ways of the living;
We have broken with the old selves who gathered and got,
And are free with the freedom of men who have not;
We partake the heroic fervours of giving and again giving.

Was it only for death we were born of our mothers?
Only for Death created the dear love of our wives?
Only for death and in vain we endeavoured our lives?
Yea, life was given to be given; march onward, my brothers.

Which matches the earlier mood in which he took up arms, as he expresses it in Enlisted, or The Recruits:

Humbly, O England, we offer what is of little worth,
Just our bodies and souls and everything else we have;
But thou with thy holy cause wilt hallow our common earth,
Giving us strength in the battle—and peace, if need, in the grave....

And here is the same foreshadowing in Ewart Alan Mackintosh's 'Ghosts of War';

When you and I are buried
With grasses over our head,
The memory of our fights will stand
Above this bare and tortured land
We knew ere we were dead....

If men with hope and happiness to lose could thus calmly abjure it all without a tremor, it is the less to be wondered at that others who have made a waste of life and are burdened with shame and remorse, like the soldier pictured in W. H. Littlejohn's dramatic lyric 'To S——, A Man who Died Bravely,' should see a way of redemption in the sacrifice of self for the saving of the world and take the road to death glad in the certainty of gaining life by losing it:

I have plucked a blowing rosebud, and I trailed it in the mire,
I have left a spirit's temple frail grey ashes of dead fire,
—I have made a saintly woman plaything of a foul desire.

And I 've quit the straight clean-seeing, I 've attached the label 'cad,'
And I want to go down fighting, want to die with brain blood-mad:
I could spit into their faces when they grin, 'He 's not so bad!'

Drawn-out weeks I 've strained the head-rope, weary months I 've longed to start
For the last and best performance, where for once I 'm given the part
Of a white man—and a little nickel devil through my heart.

Church parade, the padre gave out that damnation 's no man's fate,
That you just report deficient and He never notes you late;
But I 'm not a man to whine for mercy passing through hell's gate.

I don't snivel of repentance when hot tears have run to flood,
For I plucked a blowing rosebud and I trailed it in the mud,
But I 'd like to lave its poor soiled petals with my body's blood.

I would leave the merest speck of gold within the filth-clogged sieve,
Gold that she and God might notice there and, noticing, forgive;
I would show I knew to die although I never learned to live.

So there 's just a laughing death-song in my heart as up I plod
To the trenches, where my meed will be a six-foot stretch of sod
With a plain wood cross above it—leave the rest of me to God.

Littlejohn joined the Territorial branch of the Middlesex Regiment when it was inaugurated, and had become a sergeant before the war. It is likely that the man whose story he tells was one of the motley new recruits who marched in his platoon. He had risen to be company-sergeant-major when he was sniped at the battle of Arras, while in the act of cheering his company in the moment of victory. Before he went to France, he had fought at Gallipoli, and several of his ballads and poems are of incidents in that campaign, but I think I like best some later verse of his in which he accepts the probability of death for himself, not 'with a laughing death-song' but with a prayer that matches it in perfect courage, and that, in the manner of his going, would seem to have been granted:

Lord, if it be Thy will
That I enter the great shadowed valley that lies
Silent just over the hill,
Grant they may say, 'There 's a comrade that dies
Waving his hand to us still.'

Lord, if there come the end,
Let me find space and breath all the dearest I prize
Into thy hands to commend:
Then let me go, with my boy's laughing eyes,
Smiling a word to a friend.

Yet you are not to imagine that these men took life sadly or half-heartedly or were one whit the less soldierly and fearless because such dark thoughts lurked at the backs of their minds and they sat now and then to fashion them into verse. Freston's more prevailing spirit is in his stirring sonnet 'On Going into Action,' and the gladness that was behind all his acceptance of death shouts triumphantly in another sonnet, 'O Fortunati':

Oh happy to have lived these epic days!
To have seen unfold, as doth a dream unfold,
These glorious chivalries, these deeds of gold,
The glory of whose splendour gilds death's ways,
As a rich sunset fills dark woods with fire
And blinds the traveller's eyes. Our eyes are blind
With flaming heroism, that leaves our mind
Dumbstruck with pride. We have had our hearts' desire!

Charles J. B. Masefield, M.C.jpg
Photo by Vandyk, Ltd.


Oh happy! Generations have lived and died
And only dreamed such things as we have seen and known!
Splendour of men, death laughed at, death defied,
Round the great world on the winds is their tale blown;
Whatever pass, these ever shall abide:
In memory's Valhalla, an imperishable throne.

Leonard Cook had won his M.C. before he died, fighting gallantly. Hamish Mann has met the fate he foresaw for himself when he wrote his 'Envoi' and told in another song of the dream that he would not rest now on some placid hillside of home, but in France within hearing of the guns....

And I shall sleep beneath that foreign soil
As peacefully as e'er 'neath heather flower.
Knowing that I have answered Duty's call,
Knowing that I have died in England's hour

—but he met his fate heroically leading his platoon in that Arras advance in which Littlejohn fell.

Under whatever premonitions may have come to him, the one firm conviction Charles Masefield carried with him into the war, and that made him indifferent to what might happen to himself, was that

Right is might, and we shall prevail.

Masefield was thirty-five when he died; he had done distinguished work in literature before the war, and the growing mastery of his art that is apparent in his later work sufficiently indicates that he had not yet reached the summer of his powers. Born at Cheadle, he went from a preparatory school at Southport to Repton, in Derbyshire, where his tutor was Dr. Furneaux, the present Dean of Winchester. He gained there the Aylmer prize for Divinity and the Howe prize for English verse, writing for the latter 'A Vision of Italian Painters.' Leaving school, he was articled to his father, and later became a partner in the old family firm of solicitors at Cheadle, Messrs. Blagg, Son and Masefield. From his childhood he had divided his affections between nature and books, and in 1908 Blackwoods published a first book of his own, a novel on rather unorthodox lines called Gilbert Hermer. But he was drawn more to verse than to prose, and in 1911 appeared a collection of his poems. The Seasons' Difference, in which you make contact with a mind that is keenly susceptible to natural beauty and to what is finest in the nature of man. Just because he was conscious of the goodness that was in men and was keen to see them live up to their highest level, he lashed with an indignant scorn their weaknesses, their snobbery, follies, meannesses, in the series of modern satires, Dislikes, that he published in 1914, the year that was to rouse us from many of the vanities he denounced and reawaken our slumbering ideals. It is not satire, though, that burns in the last poem in the book, 'Beauty Cast Out,' but a passionate earnestness of regret that the England of those latter years should, in Jonson's phrase, have 'let the noble and the precious go' in the race for wealth and material prosperity, that in her great towns the sense of beauty and the desire of it should have been banished by the lust for power and commercial gain:

Ye have your gains—
Your transient gains; ah, hug them to you fast,
For after all your toilings and your pains
Shall come a day to fling them wide at last,
Yearning for Beauty, not to be for ever baulked.
What of you then, who when the dreamers dreamed
Sang praise of Hell; who your true treasures hawked
For coined dust, and all your days blasphemed?

For all else dies
But what is beautiful; the eternal dark,
Wherein nor moon nor star doth ever rise,
Bends o'er imperial Carthage, but the spark
That lit the soul of Hellas glows unquenched still.
Fast runs the world, and soon the massy gold
Casts from her, but her hungering mind doth fill
With all the loveliness e'er dreamed of old.

Little we know
Of Beauty who do never face to face
Speak with her now in all the ways we go;
She hath, we say, the wanton's swooning grace
And luscious tempting wiles the idle fool to snare.
So we divorce her who has been man's wife,
And hound with insults her who still would share
And lift his struggle and exalt his life.

Suffer us not
Longer to clutch our drifting lies unsure;
Lady, forgive us, who so soon forgot
The true incredible Thou—strong, eager, pure
As fits a thought God thinks throughout His endless day—
The something always singing overhead,
The vision man takes with him far away,
Most radiant then when all things else lie dead.

O once adored
Dear lady we have lost, return again,
Bring us not peace nor languors, but a sword,
Even as death, dealing thy needful pain;
Upbraid, accuse, destroy, but make our spirit whole,
Come as an indignation, a desire
All unawares discerned in every soul,
And on thy ready altars light the fire.

How was it possible for a man of such spiritual insight to hesitate when the war came with its instant appeal to all of honour and chivalry that had power with us? By then he had been four years married, and was happy in his work and in the home life with his wife and little son, but he could not rest so in his own happiness. He felt that his duty was elsewhere, and nothing could dissuade him from going where it led. The death of the head of his firm delayed him, but so soon as he could get his business affairs in order, in August 1915 he obtained a commission in the 5th North Staffordshire Regiment, and after some months of training and assistant adjutant work, went to France in June 1916. One of the poems written in those days, 'Candle Light,' gives a delightful sketch of his life in a French billet:

Candle light is so mellow and warm
When a man comes in all hungry and cold,
Clotted with mud or wet with the storm—
Only of candle light you shall be told.

Of Madame's brave, sad eagerness
And French serenity of dress,
Her quiet, quick ways as she goes
To dry our heavy, sodden clothes
And bring all hot the great ragoût
That makes once more a man of you,
Her pains to help us put away
The sights that we have seen all day,
Her talk of kine, and oats, and rye,
And François' feats when but so high—
You 'd never guess, did you not know,
He died for France three months ago.
And then there 's Marthe, whom he has left
(So proud, and yet so all bereft),
And Marie, with her hair in ties,
Looking at you with great round eyes
That make you wish to Heaven you were
The hero that you seem to her.
And last, and least,
There 's François' little Jean-Baptiste,
For whom, deep slumbering in his cot,
All wounds and wars and deaths are not....
Such is the household every night
Illumined by the candle light.

Searchlights are so blinding and white,
The things they show you shall not hear;
Enough to see them; it is not right
We should tell of them too, my love, my dear.

In October he was called back home by the sudden death of his only partner, his mother's brother, and was granted three months' special leave. He crowded much strenuous work into that brief space, and in February 1917 rejoined his regiment in England. In May he returned to France, and next month received the M.C. for the brilliant handling of his men in an attack on 14th June near Lens; but he never knew of this honour, for leading his troops—he had now been made acting-captain—in another attack on 1st July he was fatally wounded and taken prisoner, and died the next day. I began speaking of him by quoting some verses in which he seemed calmly to accept as inevitable the certainty of his own death, but his 'In Honorem Fortium' will tell you that the shadowy premonition that touched him had in it no shadow of fear:

...Grief though it be to die, 'tis grief yet more
To live and count the dear dead comrades o'er....

Peace. After all, you died not. We 've no fear
But that, long ages hence, you will be near—
A thought by night—on the warm wind a breath,
Making for courage, putting by old Death,
Living wherever men are not afraid
Of aught but making bravery a parade;
Yes, parleying with fear, they 'll pause and say,
'At Gommecourt boys suffered worse that day';
Or, hesitating on some anxious brink,
They will become heroic when they think,
'Did they not rise mortality above
Who staked a lifetime all made sweet with love?'

Grenfell's joy of battle, the high spirits, the courage, and grim, gay humour of our old and new armies, and some of the noblest poetry the war has occasioned live in the two volumes of Ewart Mackintosh, who also, as I have shown you, seemed to foresee that he would find his grave in France.

Born at Brighton, he was a son of the late Alexander Mackintosh, of Alness, in Ross-shire, and a grandson of Dr. Guiness Rogers. At Brighton College he won a
For remembrance, soldier poets who have fallen in the war, Adcock, 1920 DJVU pg 203.jpg
Photo by J. Soame, Oxford.


St. Paul's scholarship, and in October 1912, says John Murray in a prefatory memoir to War the Liberator, went to Christ Church as a classical scholar. He made good there more by his natural capacity than by routine study, developed a passion for poetry and for the arts and traditions of his native Highlands. The war ended his two happy years at Oxford, and before the close of 1914 he was a subaltern of the 5th Seaforths. By the following July he was in the fighting line in France, and in May 1916 received the M.C. for his conduct of a daringly successful raid. Gassed and wounded, he was sent back to England in August, and whilst training cadets at Cambridge became engaged, and had schemes of marrying and settling down in New Zealand after the war. But he could not rest here in safety; he was troubled with yearnings to be back with the comrades who had fought beside him and who were carrying on now while he was not there. This feeling is in the poem written at Cambridge, 'From Home'; living at peace he could still hear the roar of the shells, still see the tired patrols out in the rain, and

The dead men's voices are calling, calling,
And I must rise and go.

You will understand how irresistible that call was to him if you read his 'In Memoriam' on Private David Sutherland and other of his men who were killed, where, addressing David's father, who mourns the loss of his only son, he sorrows that he, their officer, had fifty such men who followed and trusted him, and it wrung his heart to remember how they had seen him with their dying eyes and held him while they died. I am not quoting from this poem, for it is a tender and poignantly beautiful thing that must be read in its entirety, and it helps one to interpret, if any help be needed, the lines 'To Sylvia,' dated October 1917, when he had had his way and was with the Seaforths in France again, with death waiting him only a month ahead in the battle that was to come near Cambrai:

God knows—my dear—I did not want
To rise and leave you so, But the dead men's hands were beckoning
And I knew that I must go.

The dead men's eyes were watching, lass,
Their lips were asking too:
We faced it out and paid the price—
Are we betrayed by you?...

But you 'll forgive me yet, my dear,
Because of what you know,
I can look my dead friends in the face
As I couldn't two months ago.