Warsash, 1917

The clotted woods are dim, the day
Ever expires and still expands:
The River finds its wandering way
From what unfathomable lands,
And God who made our hearts so great,
Our little hearts that hold the world,
Hangs this high moment with a weight
Of banners drooping, but not furled.

For we too broaden though we fade,
And we too deepen though we die,
Waste in what fashion we were made
And die of immortality —
And something rooted like the tree
Can hear unquelled, although it quiver,
Ancestral voices of the sea
That call the unreturning river.

Wide windows of the soul enlightened
Of these wide waters and the light —
Seeing whatever stars have brightened
Since eyes of men were sad and bright.
Fear not the dust or dusk hereafter
That darkens this dear land and leaves
The loves that found us and the laughter
Upon so many summer eves.

For not in rains of weeping rotten
Nor choked in thorns of thwarting, ends
The greatness of the unforgotten,
The silence of the pride of friends.
And sad with songs yet good and gay
And weak with no ignoble things
We look on this white waste of day
Where silence is alone and sings.

The clustered trees are all a cloud,
A vision and a voiceless wraith;
Fading in fulness, like a cloud
Of final thoughts that fade to faith:
But richer than the jewelled nights
That build beyond Southampton Bar
A ladder for the harbour-lights
From England to the evening star.

— (1917).

Published in: on November 14, 2012 at 6:40 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh, I love this so much.

    Who wrote it? I cannot seem to find it online anywhere else…

  2. It is a good poem, with a fine sense of atmosphere. I am glad you like it.

    It was written by Chesterton, and has been reprinted in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Volume 10C: Poetry. The editors of that series turned up quite a few little known poems by Chesterton — who scattered his inspirations far and wide and left few records of his largesse — and this may be one of those.

  3. Thanks for the source! I have several copies of Chesterton’s “Complete Poems,” but I guess they’re not really complete, are they? 🙂

  4. No, they are not complete. The Ignatius Press edition contains the most complete collection (in 3 volumes and over 1500 pages) but even that probably does not contain everything.

  5. Written for his brother maybe.


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