First World War Poetry Digital Archive



Mother: Oh, what a heavy sigh! Dicky, are you ailing? Dicky: Even by this fireside, mother, My heart is failing.

To-night, across the down, Whistling and jolly, I sauntered out from town With my stick of holly.

Bounteous and cool from sea The wind was blowing, Cloud shadows under the moon Coming and going.

I sang old roaring songs, Ran and leaped quick, And turned home by St. Swithin's Twirling my stick.

And there as I was passing The churchyard gate, An old man stopped me, 'Dicky, You're walking late.'

I did not know the man, I grew afeared At his lean, lolling jaw, His spreading beard,

His garments old and musty, Of antique cut, His body very lean and bony, His eyes tight shut.

Oh, even to tell it now My courage ebbs... His face was clay, mother, His beard, cobwebs.

In that long horrid pause 'Good-night,' he said, Entered and clicked the gate, 'Each to his bed.'

Mother: Do not sigh or fear, Dicky. How is it right To grudge the dead their ghostly dark And wan moonlight?

We have the glorious sun, Lamp and fireside. Grudge not the dead their moon-beams When abroad they ride.

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