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Edmund Blunden

Cricket to us was more than play, it was a worship in the summer sun.

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To Joy

Is not this enough for moan
To see this babe all motherless -
A babe beloved - thrust out alone
Upon death's wilderness?
Out tears fall, fall, fall - I would weep
My blood away to make her warm,
Who never went on earth one step,
Nor heard the breath of the storm.
How shall you go, my little child,
Alone on that most wintry wild?

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Thiepval Wood

The tired air groans as the heavies swing over, the river-hollows boom;
The shell-fountains leap from the swamps, and with wildfire and fume
The shoulder of the chalkdown convulses.
Then the jabbering echoes stampede in the slatting wood,
Ember-black the gibbet trees like bones or thorns protrude
From the poisonous smoke – past all impulses.
To them these silvery dews can never again be dear,
Nor the blue javelin-flame of the thunderous noons strike fear.

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First Rhymes

In the meadow by the mill
I'd make my ballad,
Tunes to that would whistle shrill
And beat the blackbird's ringing bill.—
But surely the innocent spring has died,
The sultry noon has hushed the bird,
The jingling word, the tune untried,
All in that meadow must have died.—
For that, the fuller speech of song
Has charmed me,
And lulled my lonely hours along;
Though beauty's truth that leads to-day
My longing trials
Shone then like dewdrops in my way,
When ' Nature painted all things gay.'

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Vlamertinghe: Passing the Chateau

And all her silken flanks with garlands drest -
But we are coming to the sacrifice.
Must those flowers who are not yet gone West?
May those flowers who live with death and lice?
This must be the flowerist place
That earth allows; the queenly face
Of the proud mansion borrows grace for grace
Spite of those brute guns lowing at the skies.
Bold great daisies' golden lights,
Bubbling roses' pinks and whites -
Such a gay carpet! poppies by the million;
Such damask! such vermilion!
But if you ask me, mate, the choice of colour
Is scarcely right; this red should have been duller.

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The Midnight Skaters

The hop-poles stand in cones,
The icy pond lurks under,
The pole-tops steeple to the thrones
Of stars, sound gulfs of wonder;
But not the tallest thee, 'tis said,
Could fathom to this pond's black bed.
Then is not death at watch
Within those secret waters?
What wants he but to catch
Earth's heedless sons and daughters?
With but a crystal parapet
Between, he has his engines set.

Then on, blood shouts, on, on,
Twirl, wheel and whip above him,
Dance on this ball-floor thin and wan,
Use him as though you love him;
Court him, elude him, reel and pass,
And let him hate you through the glass.

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The Survival

To-day’s house makes to-morrow’s road;
I knew these heaps of stone
When they were walls of grace and might,
The country’s honour, art’s delight
That over fountain’d silence show’d
Fame’s final bastion.
Inheritance has found fresh work,
Disunion union breeds;
Beauty the strong, its difference lost,
Has matter fit for flood and frost.
Here’s the true blood that will not shirk
Life’s new-commanding needs.
With curious costly zeal, O man,
Raise orrery and ode;
How shines your tower, the only one
Of that especial site and stone!
And even the dream’s confusion can
Sustain to-morrow’s road.

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The Poor Man's Pig

Already fallen plum-bloom stars the green
And apple-boughs as knarred as old toads' backs
Wear their small roses ere a rose is seen;
The building thrush watches old Job who stacks
The bright-peeled osiers on the sunny fence,
The pent sow grunts to hear him stumping by,
And tries to push the bolt and scamper thence,
But her ringed snout still keeps her to the sty.

Then out he lets her run; away she snorts
In bundling gallop for the cottage door,
With hungry hubbub begging crusts and orts,
Then like the whirlwind bumping round once more;
Nuzzling the dog, making the pullets run,
And sulky as a child when her play's done.

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Can you Remember?

Yes, I still remember
The whole thing in a way;
Edge and exactitude
Depend on the day.

Of all that prodigious scene
There seems scanty loss,
Though mists mainly float and screen
Canal, spire and fosse;

Though commonly I fail to name
That once obvious Hill,
And where we went and whence we came
To be killed, or kill.
Those mists are spiritual
And luminous-obscure,
Evolved of countless circumstance
Of which I am sure;

Of which, at the instance

[...] Read more

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Premature Rejoicing

What's that over there?
Thiepval Wood.


Take a steady look at it; it'll do you good.
Here, these glasses will help you. See any flowers?
There sleeps Titania (correct - the Wood is ours);
There sleeps Titania in a deep dugout,
Waking, she wonders what all the din's about,
And smiles through her tears, and looks ahead ten years,
And sees the Wood again, and her usual Grenadiers,


All in green,
Music in the moon;

The burnt rubbish you've just seen
Won't beat the Fairy Queen;

All the same, it's a shade too soon

[...] Read more

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