The Great War

from A Crown of Amaranth, an electronic edition

To S. K., Killed in Action.

(Written by His First Teacher).

YOU, killed in action, leading men!

I hardly yet believe it true:

For me you're still the boy of ten,

Blue-eyed and curly-haired, I knew.

You looked so gentle and so mild,

I wondered if you'd play your part,

For schoolboy life is rough : you smiled,

And straightway captured every heart.

You played your part: you wrote your name

Upon our simple annals clear,

In field and form-room still the same,

A knight without reproach or fear.

We saw you go from strength to strength,

Your praises loud on every lip,

Until you crowned the whole at length

By leaving with a Scholarship.

The years passed by, and Oxford took

The charge your Public School laid down;

One happy year, and you forsook

For duty called-the magic gown.

Of course you were the first to go:

You never were the sort to shirk.

That was no time for books, and so

You turned to more important work.

And is this all ? Was all in vain

The life that you so early gave?

And only, swept by wind and rain,

Another British soldier's grave?

We thought that radiant soul was meant

For greater things: we should be sure

o life is short, thus nobly spent,

No hero's death is premature.

(The Spectator, May 15th, 1915