Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sunday War Poet....

Julian Grenfell

1888- 1915



Into Battle

The naked earth is warm with spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s gaze glorying,
And quivers in the loving breeze;
And life is Colour and Warmth and Light,
And a striving evermore for these;
And he is dead who will not fight;
And who dies fighting has increase.


The fighting man shall from the sun
Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth;
Speed with the light-foot winds to run,
And with the trees a newer birth;
And find, when fighting shall be done,
Great rest, and fullness after dearth.


All the bright company of Heaven
Hold him in their high comradeship-
The Dog-star, and the Sisters Seven,
Orion’s Belt and sworded hip.


The woodland trees that stand together,
They stand to him each one a friend;
They gently speak in the windy weather;
They guide to valley and ridge’s end.


The kestrel hovering by day,
And the little owls that call by night,
Bid him be swift and keen as they-
As keen of sound, as swift of sight.


The blackbird sings to him, ‘Brother, brother,
If this be the last song you shall sing,
Sing well, for you will not sing another;
Brother, sing.’


In dreary doubtful waiting hours,
Before the brazen frenzy starts,
The horses show him nobler powers;
O patient eyes, courageous hearts!


And when the burning moment breaks,
And all things else are out of mind,
And Joy of Battle only takes
Him by the throat, and makes him blind,


Through joy and blindness he shall know,
Not caring much to know, that still
Nor lead nor steel shall reach him, so
That it be not the Destined Will.


The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air death moans and sings;
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
And Night shall fold him in soft wings.


***

Julian Henry Francis Grenfell DSO was a British soldier and poet of World War One.

He joined the army in 1910, and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in 1914.On the 13 May 1915, as a Captain in the Royal Dragoons, Julian was hit when, a shell landed a few yards from him and a splinter of the shell hit him in the head. He was taken to a hospital in Boulogne where he died of his wounds 13 days later with his mother, father and sister at his bedside. He was 27 years old and was buried at the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

The day after his death, together with news of his death, his most famous poem 'Into Battle' was published for the first time, in The Times.

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