Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - Historic Oxford

"Historic Oxford" by R. W. Sterling 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 eight poems featured within the School and College section of the collection.

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

Historic Oxford
by R. W. Sterling

Oh! Time hath loaded thee with memories
Processional. What could these piles unfold
Of war's lost travail, and the wearied cries
Of vexed warriors, struggling to hold
Their hearth secure against proud Norman arms?
- And yet the while thy quest was not forgot;
'Mid war and waste and perilous alarms
Ever thy purpose stood, and yielded not.
Noble in faith, gallant in chivalry,
Thou flung'st a radiant word to all the land,-
luck'd from the wealth of thy philosophy,
And to the world upon the breezes strewn;-
When, great with loyalty, thou didst withstand
The kingly perjurer in battle brave:
While England's Lady by the Winter's boon
Fled from thy peril o'er the frozen wave.
What need to tell of all thy generous sons?-
The priestly Theobald, and in his train
Master Vacarius, mighty in old law,
And the great multitudes that now remain
But shadows flitting in dim pageantry
Across the low-lit stage. In life they saw
Service of toil and striving for thy gain:
The Muse's pensioners in death they lie.
They cherish'd thee through bitter strife and strain,
Faithful. They fought the zealous heretic,
Rapt Wyclif, zealously to guard their Truth...
Nor worthy less were they who serv'd the sick
'Mid hopeless plague, and rifled Nature's store
To bless mankind: nor who for creed or king
Chang'd learning's mantle for the arms of war,
Their lives and treasuries surrendering.
Martyrs and saints have dower'd thee: one in Truth,
Old Faith, new Hope, have died to save or mar
The idols of flown ages; for Truth's sun
Shines glad alike upon all enterprise
That in the Father's eyes
Flatters the fledgling soul till the pure heights be won.

These golden memories sit round thy throne -
They are all thine; and thou art all my own.

A Kite Balloon was an observation balloon controlled by a cable from the ground.

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