Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SUBALTERNS: A SONG OF OXFORD, by MILDRED HUXLEY

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First Line: They had so much to lose; their radiant laughter
Last Line: And find the grail ev'n in the fire of hell.
Subject(s): Oxford University; World War I - Great Britain

THEY had so much to lose; their radiant laughter
Shook my old walls—how short a time ago!
I hold the echoes of their song hereafter
Among the precious things I used to know.

Their cup of life was full to overflowing,
All earth had laid its tribute at their feet.
What harvest might we hope from such a sowing?
What noonday from a dawning so complete?

And I—I watched them working, dreaming, playing,
Saw their young bodies fit the mind's desire,
Felt them reach outward, upward, still obeying
The passionate dictates of their hidden fire.

Yet here and there some greybeard breathed derision,
"Too much of luxury, too soft an age!
Your careless Galahads will see no vision,
Your knights will make no mark on honour's page."

No mark?—Go ask the broken fields in Flanders,
Ask the great dead who watched in ancient Troy,
Ask the old moon as round the world she wanders,
What of the men who were my hope and joy!

They are but fragments of Imperial splendour,
Handfuls of might amid a mighty host,
Yet I, who saw them go with proud surrender,
May surely claim to love them first and most.

They who had all, gave all. Their half-writ story
Lies in the empty halls they knew so well,
But they, the knights of God, shall see His glory,
And find the Grail ev'n in the fire of hell.

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