Youth and Age
Youth that rides the wildest horse,
Youth that throws the deadliest steer,
Spending strength without remorse,
Grappling with the ghosts of fear,
Knows it only holds to-day
All it freely flings away.
Youth that rides a race with Death
When the frightened cattle break,
Living in the moment’s breath,
Risking all for honour’s sake,
Lightly knows it holds in fee
Life and immortality.
Age that rides the spavined grey,
Age that seeks the safest track,
Scenting perils by the way,
Dreaming of the journey back,
Leaves behind it all the truth
Known to the wild heart of youth.
The Farmer remembers the Somme
Will they never fade or pass!
The mud, and the misty figures endlessly coming
In file through the foul morass,
And the grey flood-water ripping the reeds and grass,
And the steel wings drumming.
The hills are bright in the sun:
There's nothing changed or marred in the well-known places;
When work for the day is done
There's talk, and quiet laughter, and gleams of fun
On the old folks' faces.
I have returned to these:
The farm, and the kindly Bush, and the young calves lowing;
But all that my mind sees
Is a quaking bog in a mist - stark, snapped trees,
And the dark Somme flowing.
poem by Vance Palmer