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In War by Isaac Rosenberg

 
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[Alan Seeger] [Charles Hamilton Sorley] [Edward Thomas] [Herbert Read] [Isaac Rosenberg] [John McCrae]
[Rupert Brooke] [Siegfried Sassoon] [Wilfred Owen] [William Noel Hodgson]

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In War

By Isaac Rosenberg

Fret the nonchalant noon
With your spleen
Or your gay brow,
For the motion of your spirit
Ever moves with these.

When day shall be too quiet,
Deaf to you
And your dumb smile,
Untuned air shall lap the stillness
In the old space for your voice--

The voice that once could mirror
Remote depths
Of moving being,
Stirred by responsive voices near,
Suddenly stilled for ever.

No ghost darkens the places
Dark to One ;
But my eyes dream,
And my heart is heavy to think
How it was heavy once.

In the old days when death Stalked the world
For the flower of men,
And the rose of beauty faded
And pined in the great gloom,

One day we dug a grave :
We were vexed
With the sun's heat.
We scanned the hooded dead :
At noon we sat and talked.

How death had kissed their eyes
Three dread noons since,
How human art won
The dark soul to flicker
Till it was lost again :

And we whom chance kept whole--
But haggard,
Spent--were charged
To make a place for them who knew
No pain in any place.

The good priest came to pray ;
Our ears half heard,
And half we thought
Of alien things, irrelevant ;
And the heat and thirst were great.

The good priest read : "I heard .
Dimly my brain
Held words and lost. . . .
Sudden my blood ran cold. . . .
God ! God ! It could not be.

He read my brother's name ; I sank--
I clutched the priest.
They did not tell me it was he
Was killed three days ago.

What are the great sceptred dooms
To us, caught
In the wild wave
We break ourselves on them,
My brother, our hearts and years.


THE DEAD HEROES

Flame out, you glorious skies,
Welcome our brave;
Kiss their exultant eyes ;
Give what they gave.

Flash, mailed seraphim,
Your burning spears;
New days to outflame their dim
Heroic years.

Thrills their baptismal tread
The bright proud air ;
The embattled plumes outspread
Burn upwards there.

Flame out, flame out, 0 Song !
Star ring to star;
Strong as our hurt is strong
Our children are.

Their blood is England's heart ;
By their dead hands
It is their noble part
That England stands.

England--Time gave them thee;
They gave back this
To win Eternity
And claim God's kiss.



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