Poetry Monday: Herbert Asquith (1881 – 1947)


from the anthology The War Poets: An Anthology (Norwich: Jarrold Publishing, 2nd printing 2005)

Up and down, up and down,
They go, the gray rat, and the brown.
The telegraph lines are tangled hair,
Motionless on the sullen air;
An engine has fallen on its back,
With crazy wheels; on a twisted track;
All ground to dust is the little town;
Up and down, up and down
They go, the gray rat and the brown.
A skull, torn out of the graves nearby,
Gapes in the grass. A butterfly,
In azure iridescence new,
Floats into the world, across the dew;
Between the flow’rs. Have we lost our way,
Or are we toys of a god at play,
Who do these things on a young Spring day?
Where the salvo fell, on a splintered ledge,
Of ruin, at the crater’s edge,
A poppy lives: and young, and fair,
The dewdrops hang on the spider’s stair,
With every rainbow still unhurt
From leaflet unto leaflet girt.

Man’s house is crushed; the spider’s lives:
Inscrutably, He takes, and gives,
Who guards not any temple here,
Save the temple of the gossamer.

Up and down, up and down
They go, the gray rat, and the brown:
A pistol cracks, they too are dead.

The nightwind rustles overhead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: