The Great War

from Late Songs, an electronic edition

For an Airman

Having found wings, he tossed, light as a feather,

Airy as thistledown, 'twixt earth and sky.

Oh, but the dark earth held his soul in tether!

Could he come back who knew what 'twas to fly?

His gravitation's now for stars and planets:

These draw him, while the earth drops like a stone.

Strong-winged beyond the flight of gulls or gannets

He rises, ever rises; he is flown.

When he came back all Spring was in his vision;

Yet pined he like a wild bird in a net.

His dreams were all of fields and groves Elysian

Where he flew ever and no bounds were set.

Did someone bring his body down? Then gaily

He waved to his foe: "Your luck to-day, not mine";

Shook himself free of bonds that irked him daily

With the last courtesy, so brave and fine.

He has o'erflown return in the wild rapture.

What rumour of him in the unending space?

Flying so far, so fast, beyond recapture;

The flying ecstasy bright in his face.