The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition

To a Grave of the Glosters

A WOODEN cross above your head.

You lie, your course already sped;

And in this alien plain must rest

The bones and body Cotswold bred.

Not long since, insolent with life

You made the beech-topped barrow rife

With your tumultuous vivid youth,

With other lads, in sport and strife.

And though you shook the earth o'er those

Old warriors, close couched there in rows.

Your careless clamour had no power

To trouble their sublime repose:

Who, if they felt at all the tread

Of such as you pass overhead.

Wise with the wisdom of long years

Were patient, knowing that their bed

Was spacious, patient too, withal;

That centuries after you were thrall

To undistinguished dust, they still

Would hold their place, each in his stall.

But now, ere many months are told

Over your head, encased in mould.

Children may play, with little care

Of one beneath them, silent, cold.

Take my salute: ere twenty years

You knew, you reckon as your peers

The men of axe and spear of stone.

As far removed as they from fears

And doubts that vex men such as me.

From all demands from henceforth free

On weary limbs and spirit tired.

You hold eternity in fee.