The Great War

from Poems of the Great War, an electronic edition

The Gift

His eyes are bright and eager, with the brightness of the sun,

(England, he gives them you)

His hands are strong for climbing and his feet are swift to run,

(England, he gives them you)

He has knowledge of the meadows, in the dreamy autumn days,

The brown hill, and the gold hill, and the green forgotten ways,

(But he leaves them now for you).

There's a certain ancient city where he once was free and young,

(But he leaves it now for you),

Where Oxford tales are spoken, and Oxford ways are sung,

(But he leaves them now for you)

And his heart is often weary, for that dear old river shore,

And he thinks a little sadly, of the days that come no more,

(But he gives them up for you).

If his dust is one day lying, in an unfamiliar land,

(England, he went for you)

Oh, England, sometimes think of him, of thousands, only one,

In the dawning, or the noonday, or the setting of the sun,

(As once he thought of you).

For to him and many like him, there seemed no other way

(England, he asked not why)

The giving up of all things, for ever and for aye,

(England, he asked not why)

And so he goes unshrinking, from those dearest paths of home,

For he knows, great-hearted England, let whatever fate may come

You will never let him die!