Before Marching, and After
(In Memoriam F. W. G.) Orion swung southward aslant Where the starved Egdon pine-trees had thinned, The Pleiads aloft seemed to pant With the heather that twitched in the wind; But he looked on indifferent to sights such as these, Unswayed by love, friendship, home joy or home sorrow, And wondered to what he would march on the morrow. The crazed household clock with its whirr Rang midnight within as he stood, He heard the low sighing of her Who had striven from his birth for his good; But he still only asked the spring starlight, the breeze, What great thing or small thing his history would borrow From that Game with Death he would play on the morrow. When the heath wore the robe of late summer, And the fuchsia-bells, hot in the sun, Hung red by the door, a quick comer Brought tidings that marching was done For him who had joined in that game overseas Where Death stood to win; though his memory would borrow A brightness therefrom not to die on the morrow.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.