Home > Uncategorized > Arthur Quiller-Couch: Man shall outlast his battles

Arthur Quiller-Couch: Man shall outlast his battles

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

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Arthur Quiller-Couch
Upon Eckington Bridge, River Avon

O pastoral heart of England! like a psalm
Of green days telling with a quiet beat –
O wave into the sunset flowing calm!
O tirèd lark descending on the wheat!
Lies it all peace beyond that western fold
Where now the lingering shepherd sees his star
Rise upon Malvern? Paints an Age of Gold
Yon cloud with prophecies of linkèd ease –
Lulling this Land, with hills drawn up like knees,
To drowse beside her implements of war?

Man shall outlast his battles. They have swept
Avon from Naseby Field to Severn Ham;
And Evesham’s dedicated stones have stepp’d
Down to the dust with Montfort’s oriflamme.
Nor the red tear nor the reflected tower
Abides; but yet these eloquent grooves remain,
Worn in the sandstone parapet hour by hour
By labouring bargemen where they shifted ropes.
E’en so shall man turn back from violent hopes
To Adam’s cheer, and toil with spade again.

Ay, and his mother Nature, to whose lap
Like a repentant child at length he hies,
Not in the whirlwind or the thunder-clap
Proclaims her more tremendous mysteries:
But when in winter’s grave, bereft of light,
With still, small voice divinelier whispering
– Lifting the green head of the aconite, –
Feeding with sap of hope the hazel-shoot –
She feels God’s finger active at the root,
Turns in her sleep, and murmurs of the Spring.

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