First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Book


Seated once by a brook, watching a child Chiefly that paddled, I was thus beguiled. Mellow the blackbird sang and sharp the thrush Not far off in the oak and hazel brush, Unseen. There was a scent like honeycomb From mugwort dull. And down upon the dome Of the stone the cart-horse kicks against so oft A butterfly alighted. From aloft He took the heat of the sun, and from below. On the hot stone he perched contented so, As if never a cart would pass again That way; as if I were the last of men And he the first of insects to have earth And sun together and to know their worth. I was divided between him and the gleam, The motion, and the voices, of the stream, The waters running frizzled over gravel, That never vanish and for ever travel. A grey flycatcher silent on a fence And I sat as if we had been there since The horseman and the horse lying beneath The fir-tree-covered barrow on the heath, The horseman and the horse with silver shoes, Galloped the downs last. All that I could lose I lost. And then the child's voice raised the dead. 'No one's been here before' was what she said And what I felt, yet never should have found A word for, while I gathered sight and sound.

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