With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Robert Laurence Binyon, CH, died in 1943.  For the Fallen is his best known work.

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Summer ends now

Hurrahing in Harvest

SUMMER ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?
I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?
And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
Majestic – as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet! –
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet

Gerard Manley Hopkins drafted this, typically complex and prematurely modern, sonnet on September 1st 1877 in the Vale of Clwyd, as he walked home from a day’s fishing in the River Elwy.  It seems a harvest festival sort of poem.

Lamenting Autumn Rains

Blusterous winds, unending rains, autumn of chaos,

The four seas, eight directions one solid cloud:

Horses going, cows coming, who can make out for sure?

Muddy Jing river, clear Wei, how to tell them apart?

From grain tips, ears sprouting, millet heads turned to black;

No word of how farmers, farmers’ wives are faring.

In the city, exchange a bed of quilt, get a meagre peck of grain –

Just agree, don’t argue over which is worth more!

Du Fu, one of China’s greatest poets, wrote this in 754 CE when the weather had been even wetter in northern China, than it was here at the end of the Summer, although we are unlikely to suffer the food shortages and inflation they did because of ruined crops. The poem is about more than the weather, though, as it reflects the sense of a civilisation under attack from outside.