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Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men/Geoffrey Howard


Lieut., Royal Fusiliers


The Beach Road by the Wood

I KNOW a beach road,
A road where I would go,
It runs up northward
From Cooden Bay to Hoe;
And there, in the High Woods,
Daffodils grow.

And whoever walks along there
Stops short and sees,
By the moist tree-roots
In a clearing of the trees,
Yellow great battalions of them,
Blowing in the breeze.

While the spring sun brightens,
And the dull sky clears,
They blow their golden trumpets,
Those golden trumpeteers!
They blow their golden trumpets
And they shake their glancing spears.

And all the rocking beech-trees
Are bright with buds again,
And the green and open spaces
Are greener after rain,
And far to southward one can hear
The sullen, moaning rain.

Once before I die
I will leave the town behind,
The loud town, the dark town
That cramps and chills the mind,
And I'll stand again bareheaded there
In the sunlight and the wind.

Yes, I shall stand
Where as a boy I stood
Above the dykes and levels
In the beach road by the wood,
And I'll smell again the sea breeze,
Salt and harsh and good.

And there shall rise to me
From that consecrated ground
The old dreams, the lost dreams
That years and cares have drowned:
Welling up within me
And above me and around
The song that I could never sing
And the face I never found.


"Without Shedding of Blood . . ."

GOD gave us England from of old,
But we held light the gift He gave;
Our royal birthright we have sold,
And now the land we lost for gold
Only our blood can save.

Not till thousands have been slain
Shall the green wood be green again;
Not till men shall fall and bleed
Can brown ale taste like ale indeed.
Blood and blood must yet be shed
To make the roses red.

For minds made vile, and blind with greed,
For sins that spread from sire to son;
For loss of honour, loss of creed,
There yet remains one cure indeed—
And there remains but one.

Malvern men must die and kill
That wind may blow on Malvern Hill;
Devonshire blood must fall like dew
That Devon's bays may yet be blue;
London must spill out lives like wine
That London's lights may shine.

Lord, for the years of ease and vice,
For hearts unmanned and souls decayed,
Thou hast required a sacrifice—
A bitter and a bloody price—
And lo! the price is paid.

We have given all things that were ours,
So that our weeds might yet be flowers;
We have covered half the earth with gore
That our houses might be homes once more
The sword Thou hast demanded, Lord:
And, now, behold the sword!



HER seed is sown about the world. The seas
For Her have path'd their waters. She is known
In swamps that steam about the burning zone,
And dreaded in the last white lands that freeze.
For Her the glory that was Nineveh's
Is nought: the pomp of Tyre and Babylon
Nought: and for all the realms that Cæsar won—
One tithe of hers were more than all of these.

And she is very small and very green
And full of little lanes all dense with flowers
That wind along and lose themselves between
Mossed farms, and parks, and fields of quiet sheep.
And in the hamlets, where her stalwarts sleep,
Low bells chime out from old elm-hidden towers.