Darkness—expectant, discreet— Only a lamp here and there, Gloom in the clattering street, Stygian black in the square; Dazzling fascias and fronts, Scintillant sky-scrapers banished, Snuffed and shut down are the spangles of Town. London has vanished. Only a few months ago London woke up every night; Dances or “Chemin” or Show, Festival vistas or light. Everywhere glitter and glare, Junket and revelry keeping. Yes, but despite the laughter and light, London was sleeping. Searchlights are probing the skies, Eastward their streamers are trailed; Masked are the city’s bright eyes— Even the tramcars are veiled. Cockneys turn in at eleven, “Stop Press” thirst finally slaked. Turn the lights out. Now, without doubt, London’s awake!
Jessie Pope - 1868-1941
The Longest Odds
Leonidas of Sparta, years gone by, With but a bare three hundred of his braves, In the ravine of famed Thermopylæ Held up the Persian army’s endless waves. Smiling, among the forest of his spears, “Lay down your arms,” the haughty Xerxes cried. The Spartan’s answer echoes down the years, “Come here and take them!” So they fought, and died. Horatius—the odds grow longer now— With two bold friends, Lars Porsena defied. That dauntless trio registered a vow To hold the bridge that stemmed the Tiber’s tide. Their deed of valous makes our bosoms glow, A deed which poets and chroniclers relate. Three heroes held in check a bitter foe And saved their city from a cruel fate. One Highlander—the longest odds of all— One man alone, when all the rest were slain, Carried the Maxim through the bullet squall, And set it spitting at the foe again. Under its hail the Germans broke, they fled. One man, one gun, and yet they would not stay! Riddled with shot, his comrades found him dead. Dead? No! That Hieland laddie lives for aye.