Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - Strange Service

"Strange Service" by Ivor Gurney 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.

Strange Service
by Ivor Gurney

Little did I dream, England, that you bore me
Under the Cotswold Rills beside the water meadows
To do you dreadful service, here, beyond your borders
And your enfolding seas.

I was a dreamer ever, and bound to your dear service
Meditating deep, I thought on your secret beauty,
As through a child's face one may see the clear spirit
Miraculously shining.

Your hills not only hills, but friends of mine and kindly
Your tiny knolls and orchards hidden beside the river
Muddy and strongly flowing, with shy and tiny streamlets
Safe in its bosom.

Now these are memories only, and your skies and rushy
Fragile mirrors easily broken by moving airs;
But deep in my heart for ever goes on your daily being
And uses consecrate.

Think on me too, O Mother, who wrest my soul to serve
In strange and fearful ways beyond your encircling waters;
None but you can know my heart, its tears and sacrifice,
None, but you, repay.

A Flechette was an anti-personnel dart dropped from an aircraft.

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Muse in Arms

The Mother Land