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More songs by the fighting men. Soldiers poets: second series/A. Newberry Choyce

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Lieut., Leicestershire Regiment



SOME souls there are
Who in their trial hours
Bathe in the very blood
Which flows around the heart of Life,
And know its joy—and know its agony.
Daring to follow impulse
That any God Himself would not resist.

Stand back!
You weaklings of the world
Boasting the name of men.
Preening yourselves
And judging with your
"God this——" and "God that——"
Dare not to come
Near these.

Stay with your narrow Gods
Who smugly sit
Within four chapel walls
On Sundays,
You in some stiff God's house
Who kneel and shiver
Towards a judgment day
Of your own setting.

But if a Destiny too kind
Bring you for one short second
Closer to wisdom;
To the breathing hills and spaces
Where my God lives
And makes His Throne in every leaf and flower
And whispers in each wind,
Then I will tell you this—
That my God is so great
I doubt if He will dare
To judge these souls.



I LOVED you in Babylon.
Sweet Heart! you were a dancer then
And I watched where your little feet
Just stirred the dust within the market-place.
You passed me slow and down the sunlit street,
I saw the longing in the eyes of men
Who caught the smile which glorified your face.
A moment—little heart!—and you were gone;
But where you passed—you knew it not—
I marked and kissed the spot.

I loved you in royal Rome.
Sweet Heart! you were a vestal there
And I came to offer my gift.
A poor slave with a pigeon dearly bought,
Its feathers purer than snow's whitest drift.
With fevered soul I made my silent prayer
Though I could never touch the bliss I sought,
While holy Vesta's temple was your home.
A feather fell—how should you see?—
Till death it stayed with me.

I love you in London town.
Sweet Heart! you are a princess now
And the blue blood runs in your veins;
While I, alas! am but of common birth
Whom war is splashing with its crimson stains.
A soldier who has taken Honour's vow
To share the grandest task on God's wide earth.
One night you wore red roses in your gown.
A petal dropped—you never guessed—
I hid it in my breast.

So shall I still love on.
Sweet Heart! your soul was close to me
When the world's first dreams were made.
We two were whispering love at God's own side
Or ever sunlight on the mountains played.
And through a wilderness of worlds I see
A time when reunited we shall glide
Unto the Soul of souls, the Perfect One.
Pass, life or lives! you'll understand
When Love gives me your hand.



THE world went blind to-day
Groping with shattered faith.
And in the lonely awful night
Madness stalked, taunting me.
The gibbering ghoulish wraith
Of dreams unrealised
Sprang up and mocked my way;
Just that in one wild spot beyond the sea,
A dear heart that I prized
Passed to the Silent Light.

They say his soul lives on—
That I shall find
Him safe in God's eternity.
To-night, to-night, this aching in my breast,
This wildness in my mind
Cries to the farthest cruel star:—
"O Thou to Whom his soul has gone,
Spare me his lips love-prest!
In this pained night eternity is far—
God! give his dear warm body back to me."