Into Battle (1915)
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The naked earth is warm with spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the loving breeze;
And life is colour and warmth and light,
And a striving evermore for these;
And he is dead who will not fight;
And who dies fighting has increase.
The fighting man shall from the sun
Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth;
Speed with the light-foot winds to run,
And with the trees a newer birth;
And when his fighting shall be done,
Great rest, and fullness after dearth.
The woodland trees that stand together,
They stand to him each one a friend;
They gently speak in the windy weather,
They guide to valley and ridge’s end.
The kestrel hovering by day,
And the little owls that call by night,
Bid him swift and keen as they,
As keen of ear, as swift of sight.
The blackbird sings to him ‘Brother, brother,
If this be the last song you shall sing,
Sing well, for you will not sing another;
In dreary, doubtful, waiting hours,
Before the brazen frenzy starts,
The horses show him nobler powers;
O patient eyes, courageous hearts!
And when the burning moment breaks,
And all things else are out of mind,
And only joy of battle takes
Him by the throat, and makes him blind,
Through joy and blindness he shall know,
Not caring much to know, that still
Nor lead nor steel shall reach him, so
That is be not the Destined Will.
The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air death moans and sings;
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
And Night shall fold him in soft wings.
Poem © Out of copyright