Published on Academy of American Poets (

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. 


This poem is in the public domain.


Winifred M. Letts

Winifred M. Letts was a novelist, playwright, and poet who famously wrote about her experiences during World War I. Her collections include More Songs from Leinster (John Murray, 1926), and The Spires of Oxford and Other Poems (E. P. Dutton and Company, 1918). She died in 1972.

Date Published: 2018-11-08

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