Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men/Edward Melbourne

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Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men  (1916) 
"Edward Melbourne" (W. N. Hodgson, M.C.), Lieut., Devon Regiment



Lieut., Devon Regiment

Killed in the Somme Advance, July, 1916


ABOVE the storied city, ringed about
With shining waters, stands God's ancient house
Over the windy uplands gazing out
Towards the sea; and deep about it drowse
The grey dreams of the buried centuries,
And thro' all time across the rustling weirs
The ancient river passes,—thus it lies
Exceeding wise and strong and full of years.

Often within those dreaming isles we heard,
Breaking the level flow of sombre chords,
A trumpet-call of melody that stirred
The blood and pierced the heart like flaming swords.
Long years we learned and grew, and in this place
Put on the harness of our manhood's state,
And then with fearless heart and forward face
Went strongly forth to try a fall with fate:
And so we passed, and others had our place.
But well we know that here till days shall cease,
While the great stream goes seaward and trees bloom,
God's kindness dwells about these courts of peace.

Before Action

BY all the glories of the day,
And the cool evening's benison:
By the last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills when day was done:
By beauty lavishly outpoured,
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived,
Make me a soldier, Lord.

By all of all men's hopes and fears,
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing:
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes,
Make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of Thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this:—
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.

Back to Rest

(Composed on the way back to the Rest Camp after severe fighting at Loos.)

A LEAPING wind from England,
The skies without a stain,
Clear cut against the morning
Slim poplars after rain,
The foolish noise of sparrows
And starlings in a wood—
After the grime of battle
We know that these are good.

Death whining down from Heaven,
Death roaring from the ground,
Death stinking in the nostril,
Death shrill in every sound:
Doubting we charged and conquered—
Hopeless we struck and stood,
Now when the fight is ended
We know that it was good.

We that have seen the strongest
Cry like a beaten child,
The sanest eyes unholy,
The cleanest hands defiled;
We that have known the heart blood
Less than the lees of wine,
We that have seen men broken,
We know man is divine.