Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PRIDE OF THE VILLAGE, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN



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PRIDE OF THE VILLAGE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A new grave meets the hastiest passer's eye
Last Line: What a low hillock by your path may mean.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): England; Graves; Landscape; Villages; English; Tombs; Tombstones


A NEW grave meets the hastiest passer's eye,
It's reared so high, it lacks not some white wreath;
Old ones are not so noticed; low they lie
And lower till the equal grass forgets
The bones beneath.
His now, a modest hillock it must be,
The wooden cross scarce tells such as pass by
The painted name; beneath the chestnut tree
Sleep centuries of such glories and regrets.

But I can tell you, boys who that way run
With bat and ball down to the calm smooth leas,
Your village story's somewhere bright with one
To whom all looked with an approving joy
In hours like these.
Cricket to us, like you, was more than play,
It was a worship in the summer sun,
And when Tom Fletcher in the month of May
Went to the field, the feet of many a boy

Scarce pressed the buttercups; then we stood there
Rapt, as he took the bat and lit day's close,
Gliding and glancing, guiding fine or square
The subtlest bowls, and smoothing, as wave-wise
Rough-hurled they rose,
With a sweet sureness; his especial ease
Did what huge sinews could not; to a hair
His grey eye measured, and from the far trees
Old watchers lobbed the ball with merry cries.

And when the whitened creases marked the match,
Though shaking hands and pipes gone out revealed
The hour's impress and burden, and the catch
Or stumps askew meant it was Tom's turn next,
He walked afield
Modest, and small, and seldom failed to raise
Our score and spirits, great delight to watch;
And where old souls broke chuckling forth in praise
Round the ale booth, Tom's cricket was the text.

Summers slipt out of sight; next summer -- hush!
The winter came between, and Tom was ill,
And worse, and with the spring's sweet rosy flush,
His face was flushed with perilous rose; he stayed
Indoors, and still
We hoped; but elders said, "Tom's going home."
The brake took cricketers by inn and bush,
But Tom not there! What team could leave out Tom?
He took his last short walk, a trembling shade.

And "short and sweet," he said, for his tombstone
Would be the word; but paint and wood decay,
And since he died the wind of war has blown
His old companions far beyond the green
Where many a day
He made his poems out of bat and ball.
Some few may yet be left who all alone
Can tell you, boys who run at cricket's call,
What a low hillock by your path may mean.





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