First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Hospital Barge

HOSPITAL BARGE by WILFRED OWEN

Budging the sluggard ripples of the Somme, A barge round old Cérisy slowly slewed. Softly her engines down the current screwed, And chuckled softly with contented hum, Till fairy tinklings struck their croonings dumb. The waters rumpling at the stern subdued; The lock-gate took her bulging amplitude; Gently from out the gurgling lock she swum.

One reading by that calm bank shaded eyes To watch her lessening westward quietly. Then, as she neared the bend, her funnel screamed. And that long lamentation made him wise How unto Avalon, in agony, Kings passed in the dark barge which Merlin dreamed.

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