Guest poem submitted by Anustup Datta:
(Poem #480) Before Action
By all the glories of the day And the cool evening's benison, By that last sunset touch that lay Upon the hills where day was done, By beauty lavishly outpoured And blessings carelessly received, By all the days that I have lived Make me a solider, Lord. By all of man's hopes and fears, And all the wonders poets sing, The laughter of unclouded years, And every sad and lovely thing; By the romantic ages stored With high endeavor that was his, By all his mad catastrophes Make me a man, O Lord. I, that on my familiar hill Saw with uncomprehending eyes A hundred of Thy sunsets spill Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice, Ere the sun swings his noonday sword Must say goodbye to all of this;-- By all delights that I shall miss, Help me to die, O Lord.
If there be perfection in war poetry, Hodgson's "Before Action" is it. It is, first of all, beautiful poetry - the rhythms of the soldier's orisons are perfectly captured. The second verse introduces the irony - subtly - all the sad and lovely things that the romantic ages had to say about battle, valour, glory and the ideals of high endeavour : the finale of Tennyson's "Maud" is an excellent example. The third verse is pure despair - the last line drops like a bombshell, but not before beguiling one with the perfect beauty of "A hundred of Thy sunsets spill/Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice". All in all, a real gem. Anustup.