British Cemetery /First Poems
In a British cemetery
by Richard Elwes
Overseas, May 1940
For you the lilac and the apple blossom,
For you the music of the nightingales,
For you the sleeping in the piteous bosom
Of Picardy, at peace while all else fails.
Not yours to be tormented by misgiving,
To wonder if the sacrifice was vain,
To weigh the worth of dying against living,
now that the lunacy begins again.
And yet the valour free-born man desires
Leaps to the heart in virtue of your fame,
And yours the spark from which undying fires
Burst at the trumpet summons into flame.
Sleeping you fan them as with angels’ breath
From the hard-won immunity of death