Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LATE STAND-TO, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN



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THE LATE STAND-TO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I thought of cottages nigh brooks
Last Line: I gave stand-to! The east was red.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): World War I; First World War


I THOUGHT of cottages nigh brooks
Whose aspens loved to shine and swirl,
Of chubby babies' wondering looks
Above the doorboards, and the girl
Who blossomed like the morning sky,
With clear light like a lily made;
She dipt her bucket and went by,
Where bright the unwithering water played.

No water ever ran so blithe
As that same mill-tail stream, I'd say,
And life as laughing danced as lithe
And twinkled on as many a day.
The wonder seemed that summer waned,
So full it filled the giant sphere,
But skulls chill on where warm blood reigned
And even such summers must grow sere.

I heard the bell brag on the west
And whisper on the eastern wind,
And hated how it found the nest
That Time was never meant to find:
Through many an afternoon blue-hung
Like sultry smoke with drowsy heat
There came the bell-cote's scheming tongue
Till gipsy-boys that slouched down street

With roach on withy rods impaled
Had flown, and swallows met to fly,
And yellow light and leaves prevailed
And trouble roved the evening sky.
But spite of ghosts who shook their hair
In clouds and stalked through darker plains,
Still to the wood bridge I'd repair
Ere autumn palsied into rains.

The fish turned over in the shoal,
A flash of summer! then came she,
Who when green leaves were lapping cool
So like a lily dazzled me;
Her basketful of mushrooms got,
She passed, she called me by my name,
And now whole myriads are forgot
But kindly Nell will seem the same

Down to my death! Long tarry, Sun,
That shone upon us two that day,
And autumn's honey breath live on
The last sighed air that leaves me clay! --
Clay! clay! the packing bullets mocked
And split the breastwork by my head,
And into aching senses shocked
I gave Stand-To! the east was red.





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