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Title: The Dawn Patrol, and other poems of an aviator
Author: Bewsher, Paul, 1894-1966
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dawn Patrol, and other poems of an aviator" ***

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  The Dawn Patrol
  And other Poems of an Aviator


  "A new domain has been won for poetry by the war--that of the air. This
  is of greater importance than the bare statement suggests.... 'The Dawn
  Patrol' marks so notable a departure in English literature that it will
  in after years be eagerly sought by collectors.... Mr. Bewsher's most
  considerable triumph is to have been the first airman-poet to regard
  humanity from the detached standpoint of the sky."--_Daily Graphic._

  "The fable of Pegasus is come true.... Mr Bewsher never strains for
  effect.... The strongest impression his poems leave is of a sincere and
  ingenuous nature devoted to duty, but of keen sensibilities."--_The


  Second Impression: One Shilling and Sixpence net.


  Paul Bewsher, R.N.A.S.

  _To My Father;
  My Best Friend,
  My Best Critic._

  SEPT., 1917.

  The Dawn Patrol
  And Other Poems of an Aviator



  _All rights reserved._

  _Copyright in the United States of America by
  Erskine MacDonald, Ltd._

  _First Published November, 1917._
  _Second Impression, February, 1918._

  Printed by Harrison, Jehring & Co., Ltd., 11-15, Emerald St. W.C. 1.



  THE DAWN PATROL             7

  THE JOY OF FLYING           9

  THE CRASH                  11

  THE NIGHT RAID             13

  DESPAIR                    18


  DREAMS OF AUTUMN           24

  TO CARLTON BERRY           25

  LONDON IN MAY              26

  A FALLEN LEAF              27

  THE STAR                   28

  ISLINGTON                  29


  CHELSEA                    31

  K. L. H.                   32


  THREE TRIOLETS             34

  CLOUD THOUGHTS             35

  AUTUMN REGRETS             36

  TO HILDA                   38

  CLOUDS                     39

_The Dawn Patrol_

  Sometimes I fly at dawn above the sea,
  Where, underneath, the restless waters flow--
    Silver, and cold, and slow.
  Dim in the East there burns a new-born sun,
  Whose rosy gleams along the ripples run,
    Save where the mist droops low,
  Hiding the level loneliness from me.

  And now appears beneath the milk-white haze
  A little fleet of anchored ships, which lie
    In clustered company,
  And seem as they are yet fast bound by sleep,
  Although the day has long begun to peep,
    With red-inflamèd eye,
  Along the still, deserted ocean ways.

  The fresh, cold wind of dawn blows on my face
  As in the sun's raw heart I swiftly fly,
    And watch the seas glide by.
  Scarce human seem I, moving through the skies,
  And far removed from warlike enterprise--
    Like some great gull on high
  Whose white and gleaming wings beat on through space.

  Then do I feel with God quite, quite alone,
  High in the virgin morn, so white and still,
    And free from human ill:
  My prayers transcend my feeble earth-bound plaints--
  As though I sang among the happy Saints
    With many a holy thrill--
  As though the glowing sun were God's bright Throne.

  My flight is done. I cross the line of foam
  That breaks around a town of grey and red,
    Whose streets and squares lie dead
  Beneath the silent dawn--then am I proud
  That England's peace to guard I am allowed;--
    Then bow my humble head,
  In thanks to Him Who brings me safely home.

    _Luxeuil-les-Bains, 1917._

_The Joy of Flying_

  When heavy on my tired mind
    The world, and worldly things, do weigh,
  And some sweet solace I would find,
    Into the sky I love to stray,
  And, all alone, to wander round
  In lone seclusion from the ground.

  Ah! Then what solitude is mine--
    From grovelling mankind aloof!
  Their road is but a thin-drawn line:
    Their busy house a scarce-seen roof.
  That little stain of red and brown
  They boast about!--It is their town!

  How small their petty quarrels seem!
    Poor, crawling multitudes below;
  Which, like the ants, in feverish stream
    From place to place move to and fro!
  Like ants they work: like ants they fight,
  Assuming blindly they are right.

  Soon their existence I forget,
    In joy that on these flashing wings
  I cleave the skies--O! let them fret--
    Now know I why the skylark sings
  Untrammelled in the boundless air--
  For mine it is his bliss to share!

  Now do I mount a billowy cloud,
    Now do I sail low o'er a hill,
  And with a seagull's skill endowed
    Circle, and wheel, and drop at will--
  Above the villages asleep,
  Above the valleys, shadowed deep,

  Above the water-meadows green
    Whose streams, which intermingled flow,
  Like silver lattice-work are seen
    A-gleam upon the plain below--
  Above the woods, whose naked trees
  Move new-born buds upon the breeze.

  And far away above the haze
    I see white mountain-summits rise,
  Whose snow with sunlight is ablaze
    And shines against the distant skies.
  Such thoughts those towering ranges bring
  That I float on a-wondering!

  So do I love to travel on
    Through lonely skies, myself alone;
  For then the feverish fret is gone
    Which on this earth I oft have known.
  Kind is the God who lets me fly
  In sweet seclusion through the sky!

    _France, 1917._

_The Crash_

        The rich, red blood
  Doth stain the fair, green grass, and daisies white
        In generous flood ...
  This sun-drowsed day for me is darkest night.
  O! wreck of splintered wood and twisted wire,
  What blind, unmeasured hatred you inspire
  Because yours was the power that life to end ...
        Of him, who was my friend!

  This morn we lay upon the grass,
  And watched the languid hours pass;
  A lark, deep in the sky's blue sea,
  Sang ecstasies to him and me.

  And with the daisies did he play,
  As on the waving grass we lay,
  And made a little daisy chain
  To bring his childhood back again.

  And while he watched the clouds above
  He drifted into thoughts of love.
  He said, "I know why skylarks sing--
  Because they love, and it is Spring.

  And if I had a voice as they,
  So would I sing this golden May,
  Because I love, and loved am I,
  And when I wander through the sky,

  I wish I had a skylark's voice,
  And with such singing could rejoice.
  Oh, happy, happy, are these days!
  My heart is full of deep-felt praise,

  And thanks to God who brings this bliss!
  Oh! what a happiness is this--
  To lie upon the grass and know
  In two short days that I shall go

  And see my Love's fair face again,
  And wander in some flowery lane,
  Forgetting all the world around,
  And only knowing I have found

  A Spring enchantment, which is mine
  Through God's sweet sympathy divine, ...
  May these two days now swiftly pass!"
  He laughed upon the sunlit grass.

  The days have passed, but passed, alas! how slow!
  See down the road a sad procession go!
        Oh! hear the wailing music moan!
        Why? Why such grief am I to know?
        Dear God! I wish I were alone.
  For by the grave a girl with streaming eyes
        Doth make mine dim.
  While high among the sunny springtime skies,
        The larks still hymn.

    _France, 1917._

_The Night Raid_

  Around me broods the dim, mysterious Night,
        Star-lit and still.
  No whisper comes across the Plain,
  Asleep beneath the breezes light,
  Which scarcely stir the growing grain.
  Slow chimes the quiet midnight hour
  In some unseen and distant tower,
  While round me broods the vague, mysterious Night,
        Star-lit, and cool, and still.

  And I must desecrate this silent time
        Of drowsy dreams!
  On mighty wings towards the sky,
  Towards the stars, I have to climb
  And o'er the sleeping country fly,
  And such far-echoing clamour make
  That all the villages must wake.
  So must I desecrate this quiet time
        Of soft and drowsy dreams!

  The hour comes ... soon must I say farewell
        To this fair earth.
  Then to my little room I go
  Where I perhaps no more shall dwell.
  Shall I return?--The Gods but know.
  Perchance again I shall not sleep
  On that white bed in silence deep.
  For soon the hour comes to say farewell
        To this fair, friendly earth.

  I stand there long, before into the gloom
        I take my way.
  There are the pictures of my friends
  And all the treasures of my room
  On which my lamp soft radiance sends.
  And long with lingering gaze I look
  Upon each much belovèd book.
  I stand, and dream--before into the gloom
        I sadly take my way.

  And now I gain the field whence I must part
        Upon my quest.
  My Pegasus of wood and steel
  Is ready straining at the start.
  The governor is at the wheel--
  And, with an ever-growing roar,
  Across the hidden fields we soar.
  So, with one envious look from Earth I part
        Upon my midnight quest.

  Beneath me lies the sleeping countryside
        Hazy and dim,
  And here and there a little gleam,
  Like stars upon the heavens wide,
  Speaks of some wretch who cannot dream--
  But on his bed all night must toss
  And hear me as I pass across,
  In droning flight above the countryside,
        Hazy, and huge, and dim.

  And in the great blue night I ever rise
        Towards the stars,
  As to the hostile lands I sail
  High in the dark and cloudless skies
  Whose gloom our gloomy wings doth veil.
  Beneath, a scarce-seen ribbon shows
  Where through the woods a river flows,
  As in the shadowy night I ever rise
        Towards the scattered stars.

  Now high above War's frontiers do I sit--
        Above the lines.
  Great lights, like flowers, rise and fall:
  On either side red flashes spit
  Hot death at those poor souls which crawl
  On secret errands. O, how grim
  Must be that midnight slaughter dim!
  And happy am I that so high I sit
        Above those cruel lines!

  Each man beneath me now detests my race
        With iron hate.
  Each tiny light I see must shine
  Upon some grim, unfriendly face,
  Who curses England's name and mine,
  And would be glad if both were gone--
  But steadily must I fly on,
  Though every soul beneath me loathes my race
        With stern, unceasing hate.

  I see a far-flung City all ablaze
        With jewelled lamps:
  I trace its quays, its roads, its squares,
  And all its intermingled ways,
  And, as I wonder how it dares
  To flaunt itself,--the City dies,
  And in an utter darkness lies,
  For I have terrified that town ablaze
        With twinkling, jewelled lamps.

  But, see!--the furnace with its ruddy breath
        Which I must wreck!
  The searchlights sweep across the sky--
  Long-fingered ministers of Death--
  I look deep in their cold blue eye,
  Incessant shells with blinding light
  Show every wire, clear and white!
  There is the furnace with its ruddy breath
        Which I must wreck;--

  It lies beneath--my time has come at last
        To do my work!
  I wait--O! will you never stop
  Your fearful shells, that burst so fast?--
  And then--I hear destruction drop
  Behind my back as I release
  Such fearful death with such great ease.
  Burst on, you shells! My time has come at last
        To do my deadly work.

  Then do I turn, and hurry swiftly back
        Towards my home.
  I gladly leave that place behind!
  No more I hear the shrapnel's crack--
  No more my eyes the searchlights blind.
  I cross the lines with lightening breast
  And sail into the friendly West.
  How glad am I to hurry swiftly back
        Towards my peaceful home!

  I reach the field--and then I softly land.
        My work is o'er!
  I leave my hot and panting steed,
  And clasp a comrade's outstretched hand,
  And with him to my bedroom speed.
  Then, over steaming beakers set,
  The night's fierce menace soon forget.
  How great a welcome waits me when I land--
        When all my work is o'er!

  But ere I search shy sleep on my white bed
        I greet the dawn,
  And think, with heart weighed down with grief,
  How cruel this dawn to those whose dead
  Lie shattered, torn--whom, like a thief
  At darkest midnight, I have slain.
  Poor, unknown victims!--real my pain!
  What widows, orphans, sweethearts see their dead
        This cruel, hopeless dawn?

    _France, 1917._


  The long and tedious months move slowly by
  And February's chill has fled away
  Before the gales of March, and now e'en they
  Have died upon the peaceful April sky:
  And still I sadly wander, still I sigh,
  And all the splendour of each Springtime day
  Is dyed, for me, one melancholy grey,
  And all its beauty can but make me cry.

  For thou art silent, Oh! far distant friend,
  And not one word has come to cheer my heart
  Through these sad months, which seem to have no end,
  So distant seems the day which bade us part!
  Oh speak! dear fair-haired angel! Spring has smiled,
  And I despair--a broken-hearted child.

    FRANCE, 1917.

_The Horrors of Flying_

  The day is cold; the wind is strong;
  And through the sky great cloud-banks throng,
  While swathes of snow lie on the ground
  O'er which I walk without a sound,
  But I have vowed to fly to-day
  Though winds are fierce, and clouds are grey.
  My aeroplane is on the field;
  So I must fly--my fate is sealed,
  And no excuses can I make;
  Within its back my place I take.
  I strap myself inside the seat
  And press the rudder with my feet,
  And hold the wheel with nervous grip
  And gaze around my little ship--
  For on its wire-rigging taut
  Depends my life--which will be short
  If it should fail me in the air;
  Swift then my fall, and short my prayer,
  And these my wings would be my pyre--
  So well I scrutinise each wire!
  Then out across the field I go
  In shaking progress,--noisy--slow;
  And turn, until the wind I face,
  Then do I look around a space;
  For fear to-day is at my heart
  And nervously I fear to start.
  The field is clear--the skies are bare--
  Mine is the freedom of the air!
  And yet I sit and hesitate,
  Although each moment that I wait
  Brings to my soul a greater fear.
  To me the grass seems very dear--
  Dear seems the hut where dreams have crept
  To me each midnight as I slept--
  Dear seems the river, by whose brink
  I oft have watched brown pebbles sink
  Deep in the crumbling bridge's shade,
  Where in the evening I have strayed!
  My restless hands hold fast the wheel;
  Once more the wing-controls I feel.
  I move the rudder with my feet,
  And settle firmly in the seat.
  I start, and o'er the snowy grass
  In ever quicker progress pass:
  On either side the ground streaks by,
  And soon above the grass I fly.
  I feel the air beneath the wings;
  At first a greater ease it brings--
  But soon the stormy strife begins,
  And if I lose, 'tis Death who wins.
  The winds a thousand devils hold,
  Who grasp my wings with fingers bold,
  And keep me ceaselessly a-rock--
  I seem to hear those devils mock
  As I am thrown from side to side
  In unseen eddies, terrified--
  As suddenly I start to drop,
  And when my plunging fall I stop,
  Up am I swiftly thrown once more!
  Like no great eagle do I soar,
  But like a sparrow tempest-tost
  I struggle on! My faith is lost:
  My former confidence is dead,
  And whispering fear has come instead.
  Death ever dogs me close behind--
  My frightened soul no peace can find.
  I feel a torture in each nerve,
  As to the right or left I swerve.
  And now Imagination brings
  Its evil thoughts--I watch the wings,
  And wonder if those wings will break--
  The tight-stretched wires seem to shake.
  I see the ghastly, headlong rush,
  And picture how the fall would crush
  My helpless body on the ground.
  With haggard eyes I turn around,
  And contemplate the rocking tail,--
  My drawn and sweating cheeks are pale.
  Fear's clammy hands clutch at my heart!
  I try, with unavailing art,
  To summon thoughts of peaceful hours
  Spent in some sunny field of flowers
  When my half-opened eyes would look
  On some old dream-inspiring book,
  And not on this accursèd wheel,
  And on this box of wood and steel
  In which at pitch-and-toss with Death,
  I play, and wonder if each breath
  I tensely draw, will be my last.
  The happy thoughts are swiftly past--
  My frightened brain forbids them stay.
  Dear London seems so far away,
  And far away my well-loved friends!
  Each second my existence ends
  In my disordered mind, whose pace
  I cannot check--its cog-wheels race,
  Like some ungoverned, whirring clock,
  When, frenziedly, it runs amok.
  I have resolved that I will climb
  A certain height--how slow seems time
  As on its sluggish pivot creeps
  The laggard finger-point, which keeps
  The truthful record. O, how slow
  Towards the clouds I seem to go!
  And then ambition gains its mark at last!
  The little finger o'er the point has passed!
  I can descend again. With conscience clear
  And end this battle with persistent fear!
  The engine's clamour dies--there is no sound
  Save whistling wires--as towards the ground
  I gently float. My agony is gone.
  What peace is mine as I go gliding on!
  Calm after storm--contentment after pain--
  Soft sleep to some tempestuous, burning brain--
  The soothing harbour after foamy seas--
  The gentle feeling of a perfect ease--
  All, all are mine--though yet by gusts distressed!
  Near is the ground, and with the ground comes rest.
  Above the trees I glide--above the grass,
  Above the snow-besprinkled earth I pass.
  I touch the ground, run swift along, and stop--
  Above the wheel my tired shoulders drop.
  I leave my seat, and slowly move away ...
  Cold is the wind: the clouds are grey,
  I only wish my room to gain,
  And in some book forget my pain,
  And lose myself in fancied dreams
  Across Titania's golden streams.

    _France, 1917._

_Dreams of Autumn_

  When through the heat of some long afternoon
  In blazing August, on the grass I lie,
  And watch the white clouds move across the sky,
  On whose azure is faintly etched the moon,
  That, when the evening deepens, will be soon
  The brightest figure of those hosts on high,
  My heart is discontented, and I sigh,
  For Autumn and its vapours; till I swoon

  Upon the vision of October days
  In dreaming London, when each mighty tree
  Sheds daily more brown showers through the haze,
  Which lends each street Romance and Mystery--
  When pallid silver Sunshine only gleams
  On that grey Lovers' City of Sweet Dreams.

    _Isle of Grain, 1916._

_To Carlton Berry_


  It was Thy will, O God. And so he died!
  For seventeen sweet years he was a child
  Upon whose grace Thy loving-kindness smiled,
  For he was clean, and full of youthful pride;
  And, when his years drew on, then Thou denied
  That he by man's estate should be defiled,
  And so Thou call'st him to Thy presence mild
  To be with Thee for ever, by Thy side.

  Nor is he dead! He lives in three great spheres.
  His soul is with Thee in Thy home above:
  His influence,--with friends of former years:
  His memory with those he used to love.
  He is an emblem of that Trinity
  With whom he lives in happy ecstasy.

    _Isle of Grain, 1916._

_London in May_

  Two long, full years have passed since I have smelt
  Sweet London in this happy month of May!
  Last year relentless War bore me away
  To Imbros Isle, where six sad months I dwelt
  Beneath a burning sun--nor ever felt
  One breath of gentle Spring blow o'er the bay
  Between whose sun-dried hills so long I lay
  A restless captive. Now has Fortune dealt

  More kindly with me: once again I know
  The drowsy languor of the afternoons:
  The soft white clouds: the may-tree's whiter snow:
  The star-bound evenings, and the ivory moons.
  My heart, dear God! leaps up till it is pain
  With thanks to Thee that I am here again.


_A Fallen Leaf_

  When Death has crossed my name from out the roll
  Of dreaming children serving in this War;
  And with these earthly eyes I gaze no more
  Upon sweet England's grace--perhaps my soul
  Will visit streets down which I used to stroll
  At sunset-charmèd dusks, when London's roar
  Like ebbing surf on some Atlantic shore
  Would trance the ear. Then may I hear no toll

  Of heavy bells to burden all the air
  With tuneless grief: for happy will I be!--
  What place on earth could ever be more fair
  Than God's own presence?--Mourn not then for me,
  Nor write, I pray, "_He gave_"--upon my clod--
  "_His life to England_," but "_his soul to God_."

    _Isle of Sheppey, 1917._

_The Star_

  I stood, one azure dusk, in old Auxerre
  Before the grey Cathedral's towering height,
  And in the Eastern darkness, very fair
  I saw a little star that twinkled bright;
  How small it looked beside the mighty pile,
  Whose stone was rosy with the Western glow--
  A little star--I pondered for a while,
  And then the solemn truth began to know.

  That tiny star was some enormous sphere,
  The great cathedral was an atomy--
  So often when grey trouble looms so near
  That God shines in our minds but distantly,--
  If we but thought, our grief would seem so small
  That we would see that God's great love was all.

    _France, 1917._


  Here slow decay with creeping finger peels
  The yellow plaster from the grimy walls,
  Like leprous lichen, day by day which falls,
  And, day by day, more rotting stone reveals!
  Here are old mournful squares through which there steals
  No cheerful music, or the heedless calls
  Of laughing children; and the smoke, which crawls
  Across the sky, the heavy silence seals!

  Lean, blackened trees stretch up their withered boughs
  Behind the rusty railings, prison-bound,
  In vain they seek the summer sunlight's gold
  In which their long-dead fathers used to drowse:
  For pallid terraces lie far around,
  In gloomy sadness ever growing old.

    _Ochey-les-Bains, 1917._

_The Country Beautiful_

  I love the little daisies on the lawn
  Which contemplate with wide and placid eyes
  The blue and white enamel of the skies--
  The larks which sing their mattin-song at dawn,
  High o'er the earth, and see the new Day born,
  All stained with amethyst and amber dyes.
  I love the shadowy woodland's hidden prize
  Of fragrant violets, which the dewy morn

  Doth open gently underneath the trees
  To cast elusive perfume on each hour--
  The waving clover, full of drowsy bees,
  That take their murmurous way from flower to flower.
  Who could but think--deep in some sun-flecked glade--
  How God must love these things that He has made?

    _Eastchurch, 1916._


  How many of those youths who consecrate
  Their lives to art, and worship at her shrine,
  And sacrifice their early hours and late
  In serving her exacting whims divine
  Have gathered in old Chelsea's shaded peace,
  Whose faint, elusive charm, and gentle airs,
  Bring inspiration fresh, and sweet release
  From Trouble's haunting shapes and goblin cares?

  O! tree-embowered hamlet, whose demesne
  Sleeps in the arms of London quietly,
  Whose sparrow-haunted roads, and squares serene,
  From all the stress of life seem ever free--
  O! are you more than just a passing dream
  Beside the city's slim and lovely stream?

    _Luxeuil-les-Bains, 1917._



  Where stern grey busts of gods and heroes old
  Frown down upon the corridors' chill stone,
  On which the sunbeam's amber pale is thrown
  From leaf-fringed windows, one of quiet mould
  Gazed long at those white chronicles which told
  Of honours that the stately School had known.
  He read the names: and wondered if his own
  Would ever grace the walls in letters bold.

  He knew not that he for the School would gain
  A greater honour with a greater price--
  That, no long years of work, but bitter pain
  And his rich life, he was to sacrifice--
  Not in a University's grey peace,
  But on the hilly sun-baked Chersonese.

    _H.M.S. "Manica,"
      Dardanelles, 1915._

_The Fringe of Heaven_

  Now have I left the world and all its tears,
  And high above the sunny cloud-banks fly,
  Alone in all this vast and lonely sky--
  This limpid space in which the myriad spheres
  Go thundering on, whose song God only hears
  High in his heavens. Ah! how small seem I,
  And yet I know he hears my little cry
  Down there among Mankind's cruel jest and sneers.

  And I forget the grief which I have known,
  And I forgive the mockers and their jest,
  And in this mightly solitude alone,
  I taste the joys of everlasting rest,
  Which I shall know when I have passed away
  To live in Heaven's never-fading day.

    _Written in the Air._

_Three Triolets_


  How bright is Earth's rich gown
    None but an Airman knows
  Yellow, and green, and brown--
  How bright is Earth's rich gown!
    I see, as I gaze down,
    Its purple, cream, and rose.
  How bright is Earth's rich gown
    None but an Airman knows!


  Sad is the lonely sea--
    So vast, and smooth, and grey
  It stretches far from me.
  Sad is the lonely sea!
  Its cheerful colours flee
    Before the fading day.
  Sad is the lonely sea
    So vast, and smooth, and grey!


  You mortals see the sky--
    I only see the ground,
  As through the air I fly.
  You mortals see the sky,
  And yet with envy sigh
    Because to earth you're bound!
  You mortals see the sky--
    _I_ only see the ground!

    _Written in the Air._

_Cloud Thoughts_

  Above the clouds I sail, above the clouds,
        And wish my mind
  Above its clouds could climb as well,
        And leave behind
  The world and all its crowds,
        And ever dwell
  In such a calm and limpid solitude
  With ne'er a breath unkind or harsh or rude
        To break the spell--
  With ne'er a thought to drive away
  The golden splendour of the day.
  Alone and lost beneath the tranquil blue,
        My God! With you!

    _Written in an Aeroplane._

_Autumn Regrets_

  That I were Keats! And with a golden pen
    Could for all time preserve these golden days
  In rich and glowing verse, for poorer men,
    Who felt their wonder, but could only gaze
  With silent joy upon sweet Autumn's face,
  And not record in any wise its grace!
  Alas! But I am even dumb as they--
  I cannot bid the fleeting hours stay,
    Nor chain one moment on a page's space.

  That I were Grieg! Then, with a haunting air
    Of murmurs soft, and swelling, grand refrains
  Would I express my love of Autumn fair
    With all its wealth of harvest, and warm rains:
  And with fantastic melodies inspire
  A memory of each mad sunset's fire
  In which the day goes slowly to its death
  As through the fragrant woods dim Evening's breath
    Doth soothe to sleep the drowsy songbirds' choir.

  That I were Corot! Then September's gold
    Would I store up in painted treasuries
  That, when the world seemed grey I could behold
    Its blazing colour with sweet memories,
  And each elusive colour would be mine
  That decorates these afternoons benign.
  Ah! Then I could enshrine each fleeting hue
  Which dyes the woodland, and enslave the blue
    Of sky and haze, with genius divine.

  How sad these wishes! When I have no art
    Of poetry, or music, or of brush,
  With which to calm the swelling of my heart
    By capturing the misty country's hush
  In muted violins; I cannot hymn
  The shadowy silence of the copses dim;
  Nor can I paint September's sky-crowned hills.
  Gone then, the wonder which my vision fills,
    When all the earth is bound by Winter grim!


_To Hilda_:


  Now has rich time brought you a gift of gold--
  A long sweet year which you can shape at will,
  And deck with roses warm, or with the chill
  And heartless lilies--GOD gives strength to mould
  Our days, and lives, with fingers firm and bold,
  And make them noble, straight and clean from ill,
  Though few are willing, and their years they fill
  With dross which they regret when they are old.

  What splendid hours of your life are these
  When youth and childhood wander hand in hand,
  And give you freely all which best can please--
  Laughter and friends and dreams of Fairyland!
  Mourn not the seasons past with useless tears,
  But greet the pleasure of the coming years!

    FRANCE, 1917.


  'Tis strange to leave this world of woods and hills,
  This world of little farms, and shady mills,--
  Of fields, and water-meadows fair,
  Upon some sad and shadowy day
  When all the skies are overcast and grey,
  And climb up through the gloomy air,
  And ever hurry higher still, and higher,
  Till underneath you lies a far-flung shire
  All sober-hued beneath the ceiling pale
  Of crawling clouds, whose barrier soon you reach,
  And through their clammy vapours swiftly sail,
  Their chill defences hoping soon to breach--
  To see no skies above, no ground below,
  And in that nothingness toss to and fro
  Is no sweet moment--will it never cease?--
  Climbing and diving, thrown from side to side,--
  All suddenly there comes a sense of peace
  And o'er a wondrous scenery we glide.
  O! what a splendour! Deep the cloudless blue
  Whose sparkling azure has a gorgeous hue
  On earth you know not--flaming bright the sun
  Which shines upon a landscape, snowy-white
  With all its power of unsullied light!
  Deep in the shadowy valleys do we run,
  And then above the towering summits soar,
  And see for far-thrown miles yet, more and more,
  Great mountain-ranges, rolling, white and soft,
  With shadowy passes, cool, and huge, and dim,
  Where, surely, angels wander as they hymn
  Their happy songs, which wing their way aloft
  To Him who made the sun--the azure deep--
  And all this gleaming land of peace and sleep.
  Alone I wander o'er this virgin land--
  All, all for me--below the ploughman plods
  Along his furrows, and with restless hand
  The sower hurls his seed among the clods--
  They cannot see the sun--grey is their sky,--
  _I_ see the sun--the heaven's blue--on high!
  But I am human, and must e'en descend;
  I bid farewell to all this lovely scene,
  And plunge deep in a cloud--When will it end,
  This hazy voyage?--See! the chequered green,
  The scattered farmsteads, and the quiet sea,
  Sunless and dim, come hurrying up to me.

    _France, 1917._

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dawn Patrol, and other poems of an aviator" ***

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