The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

Home Thoughts from Laventie

Green gardens in Laventie!

Soldiers only know the street

Where the mud is churned and splashed about

By battle-wending feet;

And yet beside one stricken house there is a glimpse of grass --

Look for it when you pass.

Beyond the church whose pitted spire

Seems balanced on a strand

Of swaying stone and tottering brick,

Two roofless ruins stand;

And here, among the wreckage, where the back-wall should have been,

We found a garden green.

The grass was never trodden on,

The little path of gravel

Was overgrown with celandine;

No other folk did travel

Along its weedy surface but the nimble-footed mouse,

Running from house to house.

So all along the tender blades

Of soft and vivid grass

We lay, nor heard the limber wheels

That pass and ever pass

In noisy continuity until their stony rattle

Seems in itself a battle.

At length we rose up from this ease

Of tranquil happy mind,

And searched the garden's little length

Some new pleasaunce to find;

And there some yellow daffodils, and jasmine hanging high,

Did rest the tired eye.

The fairest and most fragrant

Of the many sweets we found

Was a little bush of Daphne flower

Upon a mossy mound,

And so thick were the blossoms set and so divine the scent,

That we were well content.

Hungry for Spring I bent my head,

The perfume fanned my face,

And all my soul was dancing

In that lovely little place,

Dancing with a measured step from wrecked and shattered towns

Away... upon the Downs.

I saw green banks of daffodil,

Slim poplars in the breeze,

Great tan-brown hares in gusty March

A-courting on the leas.

And meadows, with their glittering streams -- and silver-scurrying dace --

Home, what a perfect place!