Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE VETERAN, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE VETERAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: He stumbles silver-haired among his bees
Last Line: His bellman cockerel crying the first round.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): England; Landscape; Veterans; English

HE stumbles silver-haired among his bees,
Now with the warm sun mantling him; he plods
Taking his honey under the pippin-trees,
Where every spring with rich red harvest nods.
He marks the skies' intents,
And like a child, his joy still springing new,
In this fantastic garden the year through
He steeps himself in nature's opulence.

Mellow between the leafy maze smiles down
September's sun, swelling his multitude
Of gold and red and green and russet-brown
Lavished in plenty's lusty-handed mood
For this old man who goes
Reckoning ripeness, shoring the lolling sprays,
And fruits which early gusts made castaways --
From the deep grasses thriftily rescuing those.

Babble he will, lingeringly, lovingly,
Of all the glories of this fruitful place,
Counting the virtues of each several tree,
Her years, her yield, her hardihood or grace;
While through this triumph-song,
As through their shielding leaves, the year's fruits burn
In bright eye-cozening colour, turn by turn,
From cool black cherries till gold quinces throng

Blossoming the blue mists with their queenly scent.
Who hearing him can think what dragging years
Of drouthy raids and frontier-fights he spent,
With drum and fife to drown his clamouring fears?
Here where the grapes turn red
On the red walls, and honey in the hives
Is like drift snow, contentment only thrives,
And the long misery of the Line is dead.

Resting in his old oaken-raftered room,
He sits and watches the departing light
Crimsoning like his apple-trees in bloom,
With dreaming gratitude and calm delight.
And fast the peering sun
Has lit the blue delft ranged along the wall,
The painted clock and Squirrel's Funeral,
And through the cobwebs traced his rusty gun.

And then the dusk, and sleep, and while he sleeps,
Apple-scent floods and honey's fragrance there,
And old-time wines, whose secret he still keeps,
Are beautiful upon the marvelling air.
And if sleep seem unsound,
And set old bugles pealing through the dark,
Waked on the instant, he but wakes to hark
His bellman cockerel crying the first round.

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