Monday, April 07, 2008

The Spires of Oxford

I saw the spires of oxford
As I was passing by,
The grey spires of Oxford
Against a pearl-grey sky;
My heart was with the Oxford men
Who went abroad to die.

The Years go fast in Oxford,
The golden years and gay;
The hoary colleges look down
On careless boys at play,
But when the bugles sounded--War!
They put their games away.

They left the peaceful river,
The cricket field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Oxford
To seek a bloody sod.
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the kahki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Oxford town.

-- Winnifred M. Letts
Published during the First World War

I came across a thin red volume of poetry in a used bookstore last summer. The title, The Spires of Oxford and Other Poems, caught my attention. I decided to add it to my stack, and the one dollar I paid for it was richly rewarded. There is a gentle beauty in the poignant sense of loss that Winnifred expresses in her poems.

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