Remembrance

Posted on November 1, 2007
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            My father used to quote, with amusement, a short refrain:

“You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God, the British journalist.

But seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”

            Thanks to Google, I found the verse, and its author, last week.

            He was Humbert Wolfe, a British civil servant, critic and poet, born in Italy in 1885 and who died in 1940.

            The search was serendipitous in that it revealed two more timely examples of his work. One is:

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”

            With Remembrance Day, November 11, so close at hand, did I find this next piece or did it find me?

Requiem: The Soldier

Down some cold field in a world outspoken

the young men are walking together, slim and tall,

and though they laugh to one another, silence is not broken;

there is no sound however clear they call.

They are speaking together of what they loved in vain here,

but the air is too thin to carry the things they say.

They were young and golden, but they came on pain here,

and their youth is age now, their gold is grey.

Yet their hearts are not changed, and they cry to one another,

“What have they done with the lives we laid aside?

Are they young with our youth, gold with our gold, my brother?

Do they smile in the face of death because we died?”

Down some cold field in a world uncharted

the young seek each other with questioning eyes.

They question each other, the young, the golden hearted,

of the world that they were robbed in their quiet paradise.

                                                Humbert Wolfe

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