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Herbert Asquith

A Dedication

FRIEND if all these verses die:
Soon will you, and soon will I
But, if any word should live,
Then that word to you I give.

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NIghtfall

Hooded in angry mist, the sun goes down:
Steel-gray the clouds roll out across the sea:
Is this a Kingdom? Then give Death the crown,
For here no emperor hath won, save He.

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Fortune of War

THE far guns boom: shell-struck the church is rolled
Skyward athunder, dust of rose and gold:
The staring villa stands. So goes the War:
The limelight lives: extinguished is the star.

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The Bather

THE sea-breeze beating on her brow,
The foam asurge her shining feet,
She stood,-a silver Victory,
Poised high on some Athenian prow,
Leading against a tyrant fleet
The winged vanguard of the free.

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The Frowning Cliff

The sea has a laugh
And the cliff a frown;
For the laugh of the sea is wearing him down.

Lipping and lapping
Frown as he may,
The laughing sea
Will eat him away;

Knees and body,
And tawny head,
He'll smile at last
On a golden bed.

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The Fairy Lover

SHE lay beneath an apple tree,
A marble maiden, free from care;
And round her was a canopy
Of moonlit air.

He made his bed among the leaf,
And on a petal softly blown,
He touched a vein upon her brow
With grief unknown.

Then lightly, where the lashes fall,
Entered the chamber of her soul;
And, finding there a silver bell,
He made it toll.

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Sunset

HOODED in angry mist, the sun goes down:
Steel-gray the clouds roll out across the Sea:
Is this a Kingdom? Then give Death the crown,
For here no emperor hath won, save He.

Though from the blackened grasses of the spring
The dead look up to where the swallow flies:
And in this woodland never a bird will sing-
The laughter lives within the sentry's eyes.

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The Fallen Poet

NOW that the soul has left its throne
Behind your mortal eyes,
And light, and colour and sound are gone
From the body's palaces :
Still in his wood the blackbird calls,
But there is one too few to hear :
And one too few to watch the trout
Swim through the music of the weir.

And once I dreamt that you were gone,
As dust upon the wave ;
Or, as a dropp in some deep well,
That none could sort or save.
But falling low between the stars,
So soon as I had such a fear,
At dusk and dawn a whisper came :
'The dead are near: the dead are near.

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The Ship of Oak

When the bow-waves race through the foam
and aft are the boiling trails,
What ship is that in the fading light
with the press and the wind in her sails?
When the salvo flashes through the smoke
and the stricken cruisers reel,
Behold a pennoned ship of oak
That leads the ships of steel!

Through storms of lashing hail
When the green swells life and gleam,
What sailor now commands the Fleet?
The Captain of a dream:
When battle thunders to the shock
Or while the gulls go swerving by,
He leads the Fleet in a ship of oak,
One arm and blinded eye.

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The Silver Birch

O SILVER one, O silver one,
Above the valley of the Bane:
O stem with snow-water agleam,
And glistening limbs, and trails of pearl.

The sun has sent a slanting kiss:
Red fire and gold, his arrows burn:
Now that he aims a shaft at thee,
Red fire and gold to silver turn!

When I am spent with the ways of men.
I'll wash my hands in melting snow:
And live with thee among the oaks,
And watch the river swirl below.

But I must ever be travelling
From sea to sea, from shoal to shoal:
Farewell ! O still and beautiful,
I would thy valley were my goal!

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