Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - Any Soldier's Wife

"Any Soldier's Wife" by Dorothy Plowman First published in London in November 1917 and reprinted in February 1918 The Muse in Arms comprised, in the words of editor E. B. Osborne:

"A collection of war poems, for the most part written in the field of action, by seamen, soldiers, and flying men who are serving, or have served, in the Great War".

Below is one of eleven poems featured within the Loving and Living section of the collection.

You can access other poems within the section via the sidebar to the right.

Any Soldier's Wife
by Dorothy Plowman

Listen: going up the street
The echo of my soldier's feet.
A sound already growing dim
Is all I now can hold of him.
In this wide world that thinning sound -
First threat of lengthening miles of ground -
Is all the wealth I still possess,
My dwindling store of loveliness;
An ebbing tide, a fading ghost,
Poor wraith of all I cherish most.

The crowned heart of love's delight
Is hunted out into the night:
A golden pinnacle of flame
Is turned to smoke - a sigh - a name:
The song of angels' dancing feet
Become an echo in the street...
O dying sound, O scarce-drawn breath,
You whisper, fail; and then comes death.
Darkness: and no footstep more.
Turn, go in, and shut the door.

The lark springs up from sleepy earth
To dance and soar on wings of mirth,
Dull clouds are cleft, a crystal spire
Shoots up, the air is flaked with fire
As on he sweeps in radiant rings,
Wild music scattering from his wings.

O lark, I know you - lovely life
Unsapped by dual inward strife,
Whose perfect joy is speeding whole
In conscious rapture to your goal,
Who does not plan with downward eye
How far 'tis safe to sing and fly,
Nor heed fear's whisper bidding stoop:
"What now if hawk or kite should swoop?"

There is a time for ground and nest,
For voiceless joy and folded rest;
Only when song and flight are spent
Utterly, will you drop, content,
Your heart and love's heart wholly one
Because you did not fear to run
Across the unknown fields of space,
And take life's challenge face to face.

When I give all I have to give
I'll make no bargain that he live
To lie again upon this breast.
There is a time for ground and nest.
He'll come when he has flamed in flight
Across these heavy mists of night,
And, singing like the skylark, run
To greet a newly risen sun.

And I who watch and bless him forth,
Though he go south and I go north,
Would take with him the skyward way
And clamber up the stairs of day:
Pour life in careless jewelled flow,
Nor pause, nor plan, nor look below.

O small brave lark, 0 brother dear,
Sing to us through the next long year;
For life's adventurers are we,
And life calls you, and him, and me.

The first zeppelin raid on London was on 31 May 1915.  Earlier raids in January 1915 had avoided London.  The London raid resulted in 28 deaths and 60 injuries.

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Muse in Arms

Loving and Living