The Great War

from A Crown of Amaranth, an electronic edition

For the Airmen.

(Included as a tribute to the ever-glorious memory of Fight-Lieutenant Warneford, V.C.).

THOU who guidest the swallow and wren,

Keep the paths of the flying men.

Over the mountains, over the seas,

Thou hast given the bird-folk compasses.

Thou guidest them, yea, Thou leadest them home

By the trackless ways and the venturesome.

Look Thou, then, on these bird-men, far

More than the sparrows and swallows are.

When they fly in the wintry weather,

Be their compass and chart together.

Keep them riding the wind; uphold

Their passion for flight lest it grow cold.

Thy right hand be under the wing,

Thy left hand for their steadying.

The wings of the birds of Heaven be nigh,

Lest their wings fail them and they die.

Make Thou their flying as deft and fleet

As the flight of the linnet or the blue tit.

Thy hand over them, shall they fear

The spears of lightning or any spear?

Thy hands under them, what shall appal?

Not the fierce foe nor the sudden fall.

Show them Thy moon at night:

Thy stars Bid stand as sentinels in their wars.

Yea, make their lone tracks pleasant as

A soft meandering path in grass.

Thou that launchest the wren, the swallow,

Guard our flying loves when they follow.

(The Windsor Magazine, July, 1915