The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

The Beach Road by the Wood

I know a beach road,

A road where I would go,

It runs up northward

From Cooden Bay to Hoe;

And there, in the High Woods,

Daffodils grow.

And whoever walks along there

Stops short and sees,

By the moist tree-roots

In a clearing of the trees,

Yellow great battalions of them,

Blowing in the breeze.

While the spring sun brightens,

And the dull sky clears,

They blow their golden trumpets,

Those golden trumpeteers!

They blow their golden trumpets

And they shake their glancing spears.

And all the rocking beech-trees

Are bright with buds again,

And the green and open spaces

Are greener after rain,

And far to southward one can hear

The sullen, moaning rain.

Once before I die

I will leave the town behind,

The loud town, the dark town

That cramps and chills the mind,

And I'll stand again bareheaded there

In the sunlight and the wind.

Yes, I shall stand

Where as a boy I stood

Above the dykes and levels

In the beach road by the wood,

And I'll smell again the sea breeze,

Salt and harsh and good.

And there shall rise to me

From that consecrated ground

The old dreams, the lost dreams

That years and cares have drowned:

Welling up within me

And above me and around

The song that I could never sing

And the face I never found.