First World War Poetry Digital Archive

On Hearing A Lark Singing at Dawn in the Trenches

"On Hearing a Lark Singing at Dawn in the Trenches"

O, Wonder Bird, what song is this you sing? What message to us weary, war-worn men? Is it to memories of peace you cling? Of sunlit strath and flower-bejewelled glen?

Would you remind us of quiet country lanes? Of ivied homesteads nestling ‘mong the hills? Of rose-cheeked maids meandering with their swains? Of pebbly rivulets and whispering rills?

Or do your notes protest against the fate That forced you, neutral, from your love-lined nest, To share the humans' agony of hate That found no echo in your joyous breast?

I think at times you mock great Man’s strange mind, Which, civilised, creates an earthly Hell, Calling it war; red murder of a kind Undreamt by Attila before he fell.

There was a tremble in your song just now That spoke of mate, of child-birds lost to you. O Wonder Bird, we watchers marvel how Your wings still flutter in that sky of blue.

Haste, herald lark, for soon your silver tune Will die among the discord of the guns; The heavens will shriek in agony by noon. Hide, Wonder bird;

John B Nicholson France, May 1915

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