Lieutenant William Noel Hodgson MC
By all the glories of the day,
And the cool evening's benison,
By that last sunset touch that lay,
Upon the hills when day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured,
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived,
Make me a soldier, Lord.
By all of man's hopes and fears,
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.
I, that on my unfamiliar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this;-
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.
William Noel Hodgson MC (3 January 1893- 1 July 1916) was an English poet of the First World War. During the war, he published stories and poems under the pen name Edward Melbourne.
Known as "Smiler" to his friends, he volunteered for the British Army on the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and served in the 9th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. For the first year of the War he was training in England, before landing at Le Havre on 28 July, 1915 and being sent to trenches near Festubert. His first major offensive came on 25 September during the Battle of Loos. He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Cross for holding a captured trench for 36 hours without reinforcements or supplies during the battle and he was subsequently promoted to lieutenant.
Before Action was written 2 days before his death. He was killed on the 1st of July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme when attacking German trenches near Mametz.