Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - To a Naval Cadet

"To a Naval Cadet" 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.

To a Naval Cadet
by Noel F. M. Corbett

Lost in H.M.S. "Hogue", North Sea, August 1914

Hero of tender age,
Scarce had you turned a page
Of the fair Book of Life, ere it was ended:
As bud by autumn nipped,
Closed Youth's sweet manuscript,
Dust once again to dust descended.

Called from the sheltered peace
Of naval colleges,
True to the training and the breed of you,
Putting your games aside,
You thrilled with boyish pride
To think that now your Motherland had need of you.

Not yours to know delight
In the keen, hard-fought fight,
The shock of battle and the battle's thunder;
But suddenly to feel
Deep, deep beneath the keel,
The vital blow that rives the ship asunder.

Well might a soul more staid
Than yours have been afraid
In whom th' encroaching sea no fear could waken,
So to your end you passed
Steadfast unto the last,
Bearing your boyhood's courage still unshaken.

But ere the icy breath
Of that grim spectre Death
Had any power to affright or pain you,
Hovered around your head
Shades of our Greater Dead -
I like to think - to welcome and sustain you.

For all your tender years,
Amidst your mother's tears
Still must there be one glowing thought of pride for her,
And those less fortunate
Must envy you your fate
So to have served your Land and to have died for her.

'Billy' was the Australian nickname for a cooking-pot or can.

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