The Oxford Thrushes
by Henry Van Dyke
I never thought again to hear
The Oxford thrushes singing clear,
Amid the February rain,
Their sweet, indomitable strain.
A wintry vapor lightly spreads
Among the trees, and round the beds
Where daffodil and jonquil sleep,
Only the snowdrop wakes to weep.
It is not springtime yet. Alas,
What dark, tempestuous days must pass,
Till England's trial by battle cease,
And summer comes again with peace.
The lofty halls, the tranquil towers,
Where Learning in untroubled hours
Held her high court, serene in fame,
Are lovely still, yet not the same.
The novices in fluttering gown
No longer fill the ancient town,
But fighting men in khaki drest--
And in the Schools the wounded rest.
Ah, far away, 'neath stranger skies
Full many a son of Oxford lies,
And whispers from his warrior grave,
"I died to keep the faith you gave."
The mother mourns, but does not fail,
Her courage and her love prevail
O'er sorrow, and her spirit hears
The promise of triumphant years.
Then sing, ye thrushes, in the rain
Your sweet indomitable strain.
Ye bring a word from God on high
And voices in our hearts reply.