Robert Nichols

(1893 - 1944 / England)

The Approach - Poem by Robert Nichols

In the Grass: Halt by the Wayside

In my tired, helpless body
I feel my sunk heart ache;
But suddenly, loudly
The far, the great guns shake.

Is it sudden terror
Burdens my heart? My hand
Flies to my head. I listen…
And do not understand.

Is death so near, then?
From this blazing light,
Do I plunge suddenly
Into vortex? Night?

Guns again! the quiet
Shakes at the vengeful voice…
It is terrible pleasure
I do not fear; I rejoice.

On the Way Up

The battery grinds and jingles,
Mile succeeds to mile;
Shaking the noonday sunshine,
The guns lunge out a while
And then are still a while.

We amble along the highway;
The reeking, powdery dust
Ascends and cakes our faces,
With a striped, sweaty crust.

Under the still sky's violet
The heat throbs in the air…
The white road's dusty radiance,
Assumes a dark glare.

With a head hot and heavy,
And eyes that cannot rest,
And a black heart burning
In a stifled breast,

I sit in the saddle,
I feel the road unroll,
And keep my senses straightened
Toward to-morrow's goal.

There over unknown meadows,
Which we must reach at last,
Day and night thunders
A black and chilly blast.

Heads forget heaviness,
Hearts forget spleen,
For by that mighty winnowing
Being is blown clean.

Light in the eyes again,
Strength in the hand,
A spirit dares, dies, forgives
And can understand.

And best! Love comes back again
After grief and shame,
And along the wind of death
Throws a clean flame!

The battery grinds and jingles;
Mile succeeds to mile;
Suddenly battering the silence
The guns burst out a while.

I lift my head and smile.


Nearer and ever nearer….
My body tired but tense
Hovers 'twixt vague pleasure
And tremulous confidence.

Arms to have and to use them,
And a soul to be made
Worthy if not worthy;
If afraid, unafraid!

To endure for a little.
To endure and have done:
Men I love about me,
Over me the sun!

And should at last suddenly
Fly the speeding death:
The four great quarters of heaven
Receive this little breath.

Comments about The Approach by Robert Nichols

  • (1/27/2016 10:06:00 PM)

    three poems in one//////// (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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