[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Light-Ship

Stretched on the foam-white deck, taking their ease,
The crew were basking on the Summer day,
We passed the anchored light-ship on our way;
Running all out before a following breeze’
When, sighting us, those men who have lived to keep
Watch over the dark treachery of the deep,
Lighting the shoals that lurk beneath the seas,
Arose and leaning on the bulwarks, hailed
Our little yawl; and as we Northward sailed
We kept on thinking of the friendly crew-
That friend crew – although we little knew
That in a few short months their living light
Would be for ever quenched when brutally
A bomber swooping out of the black night
Should sink their helpless vessel in the sea
Whose peril that had beaconed faithfully
Through fog and storm above the shifting shoals-
For ever quenched – nay, but the memory
Of that brave vessel and those friendly souls
Basking in sunshine ‘mid the treachery
And malice of war’s tempest burns more bright,
With quenchless courage beaconing the night.

by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Light-Ship

Stretched on the foam-white deck, taking their ease,
The crew were basking on the Summer day,
We passed the anchored light-ship on our way;
Running all out before a following breeze’
When, sighting us, those men who have lived to keep
Watch over the dark treachery of the deep,
Lighting the shoals that lurk beneath the seas,
Arose and leaning on the bulwarks, hailed
Our little yawl; and as we Northward sailed
We kept on thinking of the friendly crew-
That friend crew – although we little knew
That in a few short months their living light
Would be for ever quenched when brutality
A bomber swooping out of the black night
Should sink their helpless vessel in the sea
Whose peril that had beaconed faithfully
Through fog and storm above the shifting shoals-
For ever quenched – nay, but the memory
Of that brave vessel and those friendly souls
Basking in sunshine ‘mid the treachery
And malice of war’s tempest burns more bright,
With quenchless courage beaconing the night.

by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
A Lament

We who are left, how shall we look again
Happily on the sun or feel the rain
Without remembering how they who went
Ungrudgingly and spent
Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain?

A bird among the rain-wet lilac sings—
But we, how shall we turn to little things
And listen to the birds and winds and streams
Made holy by their dreams,
Nor feel the heart-break in the heart of things?

by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Back

They ask me where I've been,
And what I've done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn't I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands...
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.

by Wilfred Gibson
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Messages

"I cannot quite remember... There were five
Dropt dead beside me in the trench - and three
Whispered their last messages to me..."

Back from the trenches, more dead than alive,
Stone-deaf and dazed, and with a broken knee,
He hobbled slowly, muttering vacantly:

"I cannot quite remember... There were five
Dropt dead beside me in the trench, and three
Whispered their dying messages to me...

"Their friends are waiting, wondering how they thrive -
Waiting a word in silence patiently...
But what they said, or who their friends may be

"I cannot quite remember... There where five
Dropt dead beside me in the trench - and three
Whispered their dying messages to me..."


by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Retreat

Broken, bewildered by the long retreat
Across the stifling leagues of southern plain,
Across the scorching leagues of trampled grain,
Half-stunned, half-blinded, by the trudge of feet
And dusty smother of the August heat,
He dreamt of flowers in an English lane,
Of hedgerow flowers glistening after rain -
All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet.

All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet -
The innocent names kept up a cool refrain -
All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet,
Chiming and tinkling in his aching brain,
Until he babbled like a child again -
"All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet."


by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Between The Lines

When consciousness came back, he found he lay
Between the opposing fires, but could not tell
On which hand were his friends; and either way
For him to turn was chancy -- bullet and shell
Whistling and shrieking over him, as the glare
Of searchlights scoured the darkness to blind day.
He scrambled to his hands and knees ascare,
Dragging his wounded foot through puddled clay,
And tumbled in a hole a shell had scooped
At random in a turnip-field between
The unseen trenches where the foes lay cooped
Through that unending battle of unseen
Dead-locked, league-stretching armies; and quite spent
He rolled upon his back within the pit,
And lay secure, thinkng of all it meant -
His lying in that little hole, sore hit,
But living, while across the starry sky
Shrapnel and shell went screeching overhead -
Of all it meant that he, Tom Dodd, should lie
Among the Belgian turnips, while his bed...
If it were he, indeed, who'd climbed each night,
Fagged with the day's work, up the narrow stair,
And slipt his clothes off in the candle-light,
Too tired to fold them neatly in a chair
The way his mother'd taught him - too dog-tired
After the long day's serving in the shop,
Inquiring what each customer required,
Politiely talking weather, fit to drop...

And now for fourteen days and nights, at least,
He hadn't had his clothes off, and had lain
In muddy trenches, napping like a beast
With one eye open, under sun and rain
And that unceasing hell-fire...

It was strange
How things turned out - the changes! You'd just got
To take your luck in life, you couln't change
Your luck.

And so here he was lying shot )

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Reveille

Still bathed in its moonlight slumber, the little white house by the cedar
Stands silent against the red dawn;
And nothing I know of who sleeps there, to the travail of day yet unwakened,
Behind the blue curtains undrawn:

But I dream as we march down the roadway, ringing loud and white-rimed in the moonlight,
Of a little dark house on a hill
Wherein when the battle is over, to the rapture of day yet unwakened
We shall slumber as dreamless and still.

~Wilfrid Gibson

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