The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition

From the Somme

IN other days I sang of simple things.

Of summer dawn, and summer noon and night.

The dewy grass, the dew-wet fairy rings.

The lark's long golden flight.

Deep in the forest I made melody

While squirrels cracked their hazel nuts on high,

Or I would cross the wet sand to the sea

And sing to sea and sky.

When came the silvered silence of the night

I stole to casements over scented lawns.

And softly sang of love and love's delight

To mute white marble fauns.

Oft in the tavern parlour I would sing

Of morning sun upon the mountain vine,

And, calling for a chorus, sweep the string

In praise of good red wine.

I played with all the toys the gods provide,

I sang my songs and made glad holiday.

Now I have cast my broken toys aside

And flung my lute away.

A singer once, I now am fain to weep.

Within my soul I feel strange music swell.

Vast chants of tragedy too deep—too deep

For my poor lips to tell.