Page:Some soldier poets.djvu/47

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August, and yellowing Autumn, so
To Winter nights knee-deep in mud or snow,
And you've been everything.

Dear, you've been everything that I most lack
In these soul-deadening trenches—pictures, books,
Music, the quiet of an English wood,
Beautiful comrade-looks,
The narrow, bouldered mountain-track,
The broad, full-bosomed ocean, green and black,
And Peace, and all that's good.

Yes, he is the man who does not forget, whom to-day does not absorb; he remains conscious of a crowd of younger selves, and of those distant places which have coloured his thought. At the front the absent are "everything," and after death "everything" becomes the lost friend. A complex and delicately poised nature, but perhaps lacking the passion and impetus that can shape large and difficult themes. Watts might have painted a young man leading a child through Gehenna and preventing its terror by keeping it laughing, but such allegories are not necessary or obvious enough for successful plastic treatment even by a great painter. Christophe's statue, Le Masque, is better conceived; a smiling artificial visage still fronts the world from which the real agonised head has fallen back. From one view—

"vois ce souris fin et voluptueux
Où la fatuité promène son extase";

while from the other—

"voici, crispée atrocement
La véritable tête, et la sincère face
Renversée à l'abri de la face qui ment,"

as Baudelaire describes the well-known masterpiece in the Jardin des Tuileries. Only I think to substitute a man for the woman would heighten the effect, and for this the