Musing On A Great Soldier

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by Herbert Trench

Fear? Yes_ . . . I heard you saying
In an Oxford common-room
Where the hearth-light's kindly raying
Stript the empanelled walls of gloom,
Silver groves of candles playing
In the soft wine turned to bloom--
At the word I see you now
Blandly push the wine-boat's prow
Round the mirror of that scored
Yellow old mahogany board--
_I confess to one fear! this,
To be buried alive!_

My Lord,
Your fancy has played amiss.

Fear not. When in farewell
While guns toll like a bell
And the bell tolls like a gun
Westminster towers call
Folk and state to your funeral,
And robed in honours won,
Beneath the cloudy pall
Of the lifted shreds of glory

You lie in the last stall
Of that grey dormitory--
Fear not lest mad mischance
Should find you lapt and shrouded
Alive in helpless trance
Though seeming death-beclouded:

For long ere so you rest
On that transcendent bier
Shall we not have addressed
One summons, one last test,
To your reluctant ear?
O believe it! we shall have uttered
In ultimate entreaty
A name your soul would hear
Howsoever thickly shuttered;
We shall have stooped and muttered
_England!_ in your cold ear. . . .
Then, if your great pulse leap
No more, nor your cheek burn,
Enough; then shall we learn
'Tis time for us to weep.

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