The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

The Volunteer

Here lies a clerk who half his life had spent

Toiling at ledgers in a city grey,

Thinking that so his days would drift away

With no lance broken in life's tournament:

Yet ever 'twixt the books and his bright eyes

The gleaming eagles of the legions came,

And horsemen, charging under phantom skies,

Went thundering past beneath the oriflamme.

And now those waiting dreams are satisfied;

From twilight to the halls of dawn he went;

His lance is broken; but he lies content

With that high hour, in which he lived and died.

And falling thus he wants no recompense,

Who found his battle in the last resort;

Nor needs he any hearse to bear him hence,

Who goes to join the men of Agincourt.