To a Grave of the Glosters
A WOODEN cross above your head.
You lie, your course already sped;
And in this alien plain must rest
The bones and body Cotswold bred.
Not long since, insolent with life
You made the beech-topped barrow rife
With your tumultuous vivid youth,
With other lads, in sport and strife.
And though you shook the earth o'er those
Old warriors, close couched there in rows.
Your careless clamour had no power
To trouble their sublime repose:
Who, if they felt at all the tread
Of such as you pass overhead.
Wise with the wisdom of long years
Were patient, knowing that their bed
Was spacious, patient too, withal;
That centuries after you were thrall
To undistinguished dust, they still
Would hold their place, each in his stall.
But now, ere many months are told
Over your head, encased in mould.
Children may play, with little care
Of one beneath them, silent, cold.
Take my salute: ere twenty years
You knew, you reckon as your peers
The men of axe and spear of stone.
As far removed as they from fears
And doubts that vex men such as me.
From all demands from henceforth free
On weary limbs and spirit tired.
You hold eternity in fee.
Galloway Kyle, ed. More Songs By the Fighting Men: Soldier Poets: Second Series. London: Erskine McDonald, Ltd, 1917.