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MONRO, Harold

Lament in 1915

I CALL you, and I call you. Oh come home,

You lonely creature. Curse the foreign clown

Who plugged you with that lead, and knocked you down.

Stand up again and laugh, you wandering friend,

Say, as you would: “It's just a little hole;

It will soon mend.

Walk now into the room. Come! Come! Come! Come!

You don't know why you did it. All this while

You've slaved and sweated. Now you're very strong,

And so you tell me with a knowing smile:

“We're going out to Flanders before long.”

And yet—Somehow it's dark down all the stair.

I'm standing at the door. You are not there.

To what God shall we chant our songs of battle

To what God

Shall we chant

Our songs of Battle?

Oh, to whom shall a song of battle be chanted?

Not to our lord of the hosts on his ancient throne,

Drowsing the ages out in Heaven alone.

The celestial choirs are mute, the angels have fled:

Word is gone forth abroad that our lord is dead.

Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by?

Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.

To what God

Shall we chant

Our songs of Battle?

Oh, to whom shall a song of battle be chanted?

If you had only recognised on this day the things that make for peace!

But now they are hidden from your eyes.

Oh, to whom shall a song of battle be chanted?


Slow bleak awakening from the morning dream

Brings me in contact with the sudden day.

I am alive – this I.

I let my fingers move along my body.

Realization warns them, and my nerves

Prepare their rapid messages and signals.

While Memory begins recording, coding,

Repeating; all the time Imagination

Mutters: You'll only die.

Here's a new day. O Pendulum move slowly!

My usual clothes are waiting on their peg.

I am alive – this I.

And in a moment Habit, like a crane,

Will bow its neck and dip its pulleyed cable,

Gathering me, my body, and our garment,

And swing me forth, oblivious of my question,

Into the daylight – why?

I think of all the others who awaken,

And wonder if they go to meet the morning

More valiantly than I;

Nor asking of this Day they will be living:

What have I done that I should be alive?

O, can I not forget that I am living?

How shall I reconcile the two conditions:

Living, and yet – to die?

Between the curtains the autumnal sunlight

With lean and yellow finger points me out;

The clock moans: Why? Why? Why?

But suddenly, as if without a reason,

Heart, Brain, and Body, and Imagination

All gather in tumultuous joy together,

Running like children down the path of morning

To fields where they can play without a quarrel:

A country I'd forgotten, but remember,

And welcome with a cry.

O cool glad pasture; living tree, tall corn,

Great cliff, or languid sloping sand, cold sea,

Waves; rivers curving; you, eternal flowers,

Give me content, while I can think of you:

Give me your living breath!

Back to your rampart, Death.

The Nightingale Near The House

Here is the soundless cypress on the lawn:

It listens, listens. Taller trees beyond

Listen. The moon at the unruffled pond

Stares. And you sing, you sing.

That star-enchanted song falls through the air

From lawn to lawn down terraces of sound,

Darts in white arrows on the shadowed ground;

And all the night you sing.

My dreams are flowers to which you are a bee

As all night long I listen, and my brain

Receives your song, then loses it again

In moonlight on the lawn.

Now is your voice a marble high and white,

Then like a mist on fields of paradise,

Now is a raging fire, then is like ice,

Then breaks, and it is dawn.


When you have tidied all things for the night,

And while your thoughts are fading to their sleep,

You'll pause a moment in the late firelight,

Too sorrowful to weep.

The large and gentle furniture has stood

In sympathetic silence all the day

With that old kindness of domestic wood;

Nevertheless the haunted room will say:

"Someone must be away."

The little dog rolls over half awake,

Stretches his paws, yawns, looking up at you,

Wags his tail very slightly for your sake,

That you may feel he is unhappy too.

A distant engine whistles, or the floor

Creaks, or the wandering night-wind bangs a door

Silence is scattered like a broken glass.

The minutes prick their ears and run about,

Then one by one subside again and pass

Sedately in, monotonously out.

You bend your head and wipe away a tear.

Solitude walks one heavy step more near.

Overheard on a Saltmarsh

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?

Give them me.


Give them me. Give them me.


Then I will howl all night in the reeds,

Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water,

Better than voices of winds that sing,

Better than any man’s fair daughter,

Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads, I desire them.


I will howl in a deep lagoon

For your green glass beads, I love them so.

Give them me. Give them.