The Great War

from More Songs By the Fighting Men, an electronic edition

Private Claye
(Killed 27th June, 1917)

FROM clay in strength our native oak-tree grows

To height and girth and spread of largest span;

The sweet and crimson riot of the rose;

And wheat, the bread and sacrament of man.

Clay built our homes, and towns of civil folk

Where born were manners, arts and liberty;

Clay are the pipes whence age can blow but smoke.

And children orbs of bliss and vanity.

This is fine clay: our common clay is finer

Which England mine hath modelled not in strife

To strive for England, and the Great Designer

Into the nostrils breathed the breath of life.

Claye, I salute what everlasting fame

Informs thine ancient and illustrious name.