Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, 11TH R.S.R., by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

11TH R.S.R., by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: How bright a dove's wing shows against the sky
Last Line: Not one, but by the host for ever marches.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): World War I; First World War

How bright a dove's wing shows against the sky
When thunder's blackening up in monstrous cloud;
How silver clear against war's hue and cry
Each syllable of peace the gods allowed!
Even common things in anguish have grown rare
As legends of a richer life gone by,
Like flowers that in their time were no one's care,
But blooming late are loved and grudged to die.

What mercy is it I should live and move,
If haunted ever by war's agony?
Nature is love and will remember love,
And kindly uses those whom fear set free.
Let me not even think of you as dead,
O never dead! you live, your old songs yet
Pass me each day, your faith still routs my dread,
Your past and future are my parapet.

You looked before and after! these calm shires,
The doting sun, the orchards all aflame,
These joyful flocking swallows round the spires,
Bonfires and turreted stacks -- well may you claim,
Still seeing these sweet familiar bygones, all!
Still dwells in you their has-been, their to-be,
And walking in their light you fear no fall.
This is your holding: mine, across the sea,

Where much I find to trace old friendship by:
"Here one bade us farewell," "Here supped we then,"
"Wit never sweeter fell than that July" --
Even sometimes comes the praise of better men.
The land lies like a jewel in the mind,
And featured sharp shall lie when other fades,
And through its veins the eternal memories wind
As that lost column down its colonnades.

Flat parcelled fields the scanty paths scored through,
Woods where no guns thrust their lean muzzles out,
Small smoky inns, we laughed at war's ado!
And clutching death, to hear, fell into doubt.
Christ at each crossroad hung, rich belfries tolling,
Old folks a-digging, weathercocks turned torches,
Half-hearted railways, flimsy millsails rolling --
Not one, but by the host for ever marches.

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