Your Name

Winifred M. Letts - 1882-1972
When I can dare at last to speak your name
It shall not be with hushed and reverent speech
As if your spirit were beyond the reach
Of homely merry things, kind jest or game.
Death shall not hide you in some jewelled shrine
Nor set you in marmoreal pomp apart,
You who still share the ingle of my heart,
Participant in every thought of mine.

Your name, when I can dare to speak it, dear,
Shall still be linked with laughter and with joy.
No solemn panegyrist shall destroy
My image of you, gay, familiar
As in old happy days,—lest I discover
Too late I’ve won a saint but lost a lover. 

More by Winifred M. Letts

Hallow-E'en, 1914

"Why do you wait at your door, woman, 
     Alone in the night?" 
"I am waiting for one who will come, stranger, 
     To show him a light. 
He will see me afar on the road 
     And be glad at the sight." 

"Have you no fear in your heart, woman, 
     To stand there alone? 
There is comfort for you and kindly content 
     Beside the hearthstone." 
But she answered, "No rest can I have 
     Till I welcome my own." 

"Is it far he must travel to-night, 
     This man of your heart?" 
"Strange lands that I know not and pitiless seas 
     Have kept us apart, 
And he travels this night to his home 
     Without guide, without chart." 

"And has he companions to cheer him?" 
     "Aye, many," she said. 
"The candles are lighted, the hearthstones are swept, 
     The fires glow red. 
We shall welcome them out of the night— 
     Our home-coming dead."

Hallow-E'en, 1915

Will you come back to us, men of our hearts, to-night 
In the misty close of the brief October day? 
Will you leave the alien graves where you sleep and steal away 
To see the gables and eaves of home grow dark in the evening light? 

O men of the manor and moated hall and farm, 
Come back to-night, treading softly over the grass; 
The dew of the autumn dusk will not betray where you pass; 
The watchful dog may stir in his sleep but he'll raise no hoarse alarm. 

Then you will stand, not strangers, but wishful to look 
At the kindly lamplight shed from the open door, 
And the fire-lit casement where one, having wept you sore, 
Sits dreaming alone with her sorrow, not heeding her open book. 

Forgotten awhile the weary trenches, the dome 
Of pitiless Eastern sky, in this quiet hour 
When no sound breaks the hush but the chimes from the old church tower, 
And the river's song at the weir,—ah! then we will welcome you home. 

You will come back to us just as the robin sings 
Nunc Dimittis from the larch to a sun late set 
In purple woodlands; when caught like silver fish in a net 
The stars gleam out through the orchard boughs and the church owl flaps his wings. 

We have no fear of you, silent shadows, who tread 
The leaf-bestrewn paths, the dew-wet lawns. Draw near 
To the glowing fire, the empty chair,—we shall not fear, 
Being but ghosts for the lack of you, ghosts of our well-beloved dead.

The Spires of Oxford

I saw the spires of Oxford
    As I was passing by,
The gray spires of Oxford
    Against the pearl-gray sky.
My heart was with the Oxford men
    Who went abroad to die.

The years go fast in Oxford,
    The golden years and gay,
The hoary Colleges look down
    On careless boys at play.
But when the bugles sounded war
    They put their games away.

They left the peaceful river,
    The cricket-field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Oxford,
    To seek a bloody sod—
They gave their merry youth away
    For country and for God.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
    Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
    Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
    Than even Oxford town.