First World War Poetry Digital Archive

I Never Saw that Land Before


I never saw that land before, And now can never see it again; Yet, as if by acquaintance hoar Endeared, by gladness and by pain, Great was the affection that I bore

To the valley and the river small, The cattle, the grass, the bare ash trees, The chickens from the farmsteads, all Elm-hidden, and the tributaries Descending at equal interval;

The blackthorns down along the brook With wounds yellow as crocuses Where yesterday the labourer's hook Had sliced them cleanly; and the breeze That hinted all and nothing spoke.

I neither expected anything Nor yet remembered: but some goal I touched then; and if I could sing What would not even whisper my soul As I went on my journeying,

I should use, as the trees and birds did, A language not to be betrayed; And what was hid should still be hid Excepting from those like me made Who answer when such whispers bid.

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