Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - Lines Written Somewhere in the North Sea

"Lines Written Somewhere in the North Sea" by Noel F. M. Corbett 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 Sea Affair section of the collection.  You can access other poems within the section via the sidebar to the right.

Lines Written Somewhere in the North Sea
by Noel F. M. Corbett

The laggard hours drift slowly by; while silver mist-wreaths veil the sky
And iron coast wheron, flung high, the North Sea breaks in foam.
When flame the pallid Northern Lights on seeming age-long winter nights,
Then oftentimes for our delight God sends a dream of Home.

And once again we know the peace of little red-roofed villages
That nestle close in some deep crease amid the rolling wealds
That northward, eastward, southward sweep, fragrant with thyme and flecked with sheep,
To where the corn is standing deep above the ripening fields.

And once again in that fair dream I see the sibilant, swift stream -
Now gloomy-green and now agleam - that flows by Furnace Mill,
And hear the plover's plaintive cry above the common at Holtye,
When redly glows the dusky sky and all the woods are still.

Oh, I remember as of old, the copse aflame with russet gold,
The sweet half-rotten Scent of mould, the while I stand and hark
To unseen woodland life that stirs before the clamant gamekeepers,
Till, sudden, out a pheasant whirrs to cries of "Mark cock, mark!"

And there are aged inns that sell the mellow, cool October ale,
What time one tells an oft-told tale around the friendly fires,
Until the clock with muffled chime asserts that it is closing time,
And o'er the fields now white with rime the company retires.

How long ago and far it seems, this peaceful country of our dreams,
Of fruitful fields and purling streams - the England that we know:
Who holds within her sea-girt ring all that we love, and love can bring;
Ah, Life were but a little thing to give to keep her so!

A respirator was a gas mask in which air was inhaled through a metal box of chemicals.

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