Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO THE OXFORD MEN IN THE WAR, by CHRISTOPHER DARLINGTON MORLEY

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TO THE OXFORD MEN IN THE WAR, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Often, on afternoons gray and sombre
Last Line: Even the enemy has his share.
Alternate Author Name(s): Hall, Galway
Subject(s): Oxford University; World War I - Great Britain

OFTEN, on afternoons gray and sombre,
When clouds lie low and dark with rain,
A random bell strikes a chord familiar
And I hear the Oxford chimes again.
Never I see a swift stream running
Cold and full from shore to shore,
But I think of Isis, and remember
The leaping boat and the throbbing oar.

O my brothers, my more than brothers—
Lost and gone are those days indeed:
Where are the bells, the gowns, the voices,
All that made us one blood and breed?
Gone—and in many an unknown pitfall
You have swinked, and died like men—
And here I sit in a quiet chamber
Writing on paper with a pen.

O my brothers, my more than brothers—
Big, intolerant, gallant boys!
Going to war as into a boat-race,
Full of laughter and fond of noise!
I can imagine your smile: how eager,
Nervous for the suspense to be done—
And I remember the Iffley meadows,
The crew alert for the starting gun.

Old gray city, O dear gray city,
How young we were, and how close to Truth!
We envied no one, we hated no one,
All was magical to our youth.
Still, in the hall of the Triple Roses,
The cannel casts its ruddy span,
And still the garden gate discloses
The message Manners Makyth Man.

Then I recall that an Oxford college,
Setting a stone for those who have died,
Nobly remembered all her children—
Even those on the German side.
That was Oxford! and that was England!
Fight your enemy, fight him square;
But in justice, honour, and pity
Even the enemy has his share.

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