Rupert Brooke

(1887-1915 / Warwickshire / England)

Choriambics II


Here the flame that was ash, shrine that was void,
lost in the haunted wood,
I have tended and loved, year upon year, I in the solitude
Waiting, quiet and glad-eyed in the dark, knowing that once a gleam
Glowed and went through the wood. Still I abode strong in a golden dream,
Unrecaptured.
For I, I that had faith, knew that a face would glance
One day, white in the dim woods, and a voice call, and a radiance
Fill the grove, and the fire suddenly leap . . . and, in the heart of it,
End of labouring, you! Therefore I kept ready the altar, lit
The flame, burning apart.
Face of my dreams vainly in vision white
Gleaming down to me, lo! hopeless I rise now. For about midnight
Whispers grew through the wood suddenly, strange cries in the boughs above
Grated, cries like a laugh. Silent and black then through the sacred grove
Great birds flew, as a dream, troubling the leaves, passing at length.

I knew
Long expected and long loved, that afar, God of the dim wood, you
Somewhere lay, as a child sleeping, a child suddenly reft from mirth,
White and wonderful yet, white in your youth, stretched upon foreign earth,
God, immortal and dead!
Therefore I go; never to rest, or win
Peace, and worship of you more, and the dumb wood and the shrine therein.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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