Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - Marching at Home: Pictures

"Marching at Home: Pictures" by Edward Shanks 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 seven poems featured within The Mother Land section of the collection.

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

Marching at Home: Pictures
by Edward Shanks

Under a grey dawn, timidly breaking,
Through the little village the men are waking
Easing their stiff limbs and rubbing their eyes;
From my misted window I watch the sun rise.
In the middle of the village a fountain stands,
Round it the men sit, washing their red hands.
Slowly the light grows, we call the roll over,
Bring the laggards stumbling from their warm cover,
Slowly the company gathers all together
And the men and the officer look shyly at the weather.
By the left, quick march! Off the column goes.
All through the village all the windows unclose:
At every window stands a child, early waking,
To see what road the company is taking.

The wind is cold and heavy
And storms are in the sky:
Our path across the heather
Goes higher and more high.

To right, the town we came from,
To left, blue hills and sea:
The wind is growing colder,
And shivering are we.

We drag with stiffening fingers
Our rifles up the hill.
The path is steep and tangled,
But leads to Flanders still.

A Battery was a group of six guns or howitzers.

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Muse in Arms

The Mother Land