The Great War

from A Crown of Amaranth, an electronic edition

Recruits on the Road to Oxford."

THEY passed in dusty black defile

Along the burning champaign's edge,

Where English oaks for many a mile

Dripped acorns o'er the berried hedge.

With valorous smiles on faces soiled,

Out of the autumn's heat and light,

These who on English earth had toiled

Came forth for English earth to fight.

Round their descending flank out-spread

The country like a painted page-

God's truth, a man were lightly dead

For such a golden heritage!

But these, the surging centuries' wrack

Beyond all tides auspicious thrown,

Doomed with bowed head and thread-bareback

To till the land they might not own;

Reft of the swallow's tranquil lease,

Reft of the scrap-fed robin's dole-

How have these reared in starveling peace

This flaming valiancy of soul? Ö

O England, when with fluttered breath

You greet the victory they earn,

And when with eyes that look on death

This remnant of your sons return,

On your inviolate soil repent,

And give the guerdon unbesought

To these whose lives were freely lent

Some share of that for which they fought!

(TheWestminster Gazzete.)