First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Country At War

COUNTRY AT WAR by ROBERT GRAVES

And what of home---how goes it, boys, While we die here in stench and noise? 'The hill stands up and hedges wind Over the crest and drop behind; Here swallows dip and wild things go On peaceful errands to and fro Across the sloping meadow floor, And make no guess at blasting war. In woods that fledge the round hill-shoulder Leaves shoot and open, fall and moulder, And shoot again. Meadows yet show Alternate white of drifted snow And daisies. Children play at shop, Warm days, on the flat boulder-top, With wildflower coinage, and the wares Are bits of glass and unripe pears. Crows perch upon the backs of sheep, The wheat goes yellow: women reap, Autumn winds ruffle brook and pond, Flutter the hedge and fly beyond. So the first things of nature run, And stand not still for any one, Contemptuous of the distant cry Wherewith you harrow earth and sky And high French clouds, praying to be Back, back in peace beyond the sea, Where nature with accustomed round Sweeps and garnishes the ground With kindly beauty, warm or cold--- Alternate seasons never old: Heathen, how furiously you rage, Cursing this blood and brimstone age, How furiously against your will You kill and kill again, and kill: All thought of peace behind you cast, Till like small boys with fear aghast, Each cries for God to understand, "I could not help it, it was my hand."'

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