Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - Before Action

"Before Action" by W. N. Hodgson 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 Before Action section of the collection.

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

Before Action
by William Noel Hodgson
(Written on 29 June 1916)

By all the glories of the day,
And the cool evening's benison,
By that last sunset touch that lay,
Upon the hills when day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured,
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived,
Make me a soldier, Lord.

By all of man's hopes and fears,
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my unfamiliar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this;-
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.

French tanks were used for the first time in battle on 17 April 1917, when the 'Char Schneider' (as they were known) was used during the Second Battle of the Aisne.

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Muse in Arms

Before Action