Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BATTLE OF BRITAIN, by CECIL DAY LEWIS



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BATTLE OF BRITAIN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What did we earth-bound make of it? A tangle
Last Line: Their luck, skill, nerve. And they were young like you.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blake, Nicolas
Subject(s): Film (Photography); Great Britain - History; World War Ii; English History; Second World War


What did we earth-bound make of it? A tangle
Of vapour trails, a vertiginously high
Swarming of midges, at most a fiery angel
Hurled out of heaven, was all we could descry.

How could we know the agony and pride
That scrawled those fading signatures up there,
And the cool expertise of those who died
Or lived through that delirium of the air?

Grounded on history now, we re-enact
Such lives, such deaths. Time, laughing out of court
The newspaper heroics and the faked
Statistics, leaves us only to record.

What was, what might have been: fighter and bomber,
The tilting sky, tense moves and counterings;
Those who outlived that legendary summer;
Those who went down, its sunlight on their wings.

And you, unborn then, what will you make of it—
This shadow-play of battles long ago?
Be sure of this: they pushed to the uttermost limit
Their luck, skill, nerve. And they were young like you.





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