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Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men/A. Victor Ratcliffe

< Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men

A. VICTOR RATCLIFFE

Lieut., 10/13th West Yorkshire Regiment

 

At Sundown

THE day put by his valiant shield,
And cast him down.
His broken sword lay o'er a field
Of barley brown
And his bright sceptre and his crown
Were sunken in the river's heart.


His native tent of blue and gold
Was gathered in.
I saw his torn flags o'er the wold;
And on the whin
High silence lit, and her near kin
Fair twilight spread her firefly wings.


The birds like secret thoughts lay still
Beneath the hush
That held the sky and the long hill
And every bush.
And floated o'er the river's rush
And held the windlets in her hand.

 

Into the Night

INTO the night we slip once more,
Into the night to sleep.
And call upon our soothed brain
To give us to ourselves again
Beatified and lithe of limb,
To break from the sad world, and leap
Into the day beyond the rim
Of the world's darkness, and to be
From dross and sorrow free.


To rove a mountain diamonded,
And see a mother-o'-pearl
Clouding trail along the sky,
To see a silver stork go by
On stately wing, and carrying
A beautiful white lissom girl,
Soul's Innocence, whose sapphire ring
Shines with her tender sapphire eyes
Among the bluey skies.


To sail upon a silvery sea
Upon a silver ship,
And hear the siren's softest song
Come wafted the moon's path along—
Like to your breath upon my cheek
Or a smile from lip to lip—
To love one friend with whom to speak
Of lovely, joyful things, and be
At peace with the wide sea.

 

Optimism

AT last there'll dawn the last of the long year,
Of the long year that seemed to dream no end,
Whose every dawn but turned the world more drear,
And slew some hope, or led away some friend.
Or be you dark, or buffeting, or blind,
We care not, day, but leave not death behind.


The hours that feed on war go heavy-hearted,
Death is no fare wherewith to make hearts fain.
Oh, we are sick to find that they who started
With glamour in their eyes come not again.
O day, be long and heavy if you will,
But on our hopes set not a bitter heel.


For tiny hopes like tiny flowers of Spring
Will come, though death and ruin hold the land,
Though storms may roar they may not break the wing
Of the earthed lark whose song is ever bland.
Fell year unpitiful, slow days of scorn,
Your kind shall die, and sweeter days be born.