WH Auden


O What Is That Sound - Poem by WH Auden

O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
Down in the valley drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
The soldiers coming.

O what is that light I see flashing so clear
Over the distance brightly, brightly?
Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
As they step lightly.

O what are they doing with all that gear,
What are they doing this morning, morning?
Only their usual manoeuvres, dear,
Or perhaps a warning.

O why have they left the road down there,
Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
Perhaps a change in their orders, dear,
Why are you kneeling?

O haven't they stopped for the doctor's care,
Haven't they reined their horses, horses?
Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,
None of these forces.

O is it the parson they want, with white hair,
Is it the parson, is it, is it?
No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
Without a visit.

O it must be the farmer that lives so near.
It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?
They have passed the farmyard already, dear,
And now they are running.

O where are you going? Stay with me here!
Were the vows you swore deceiving, deceiving?
No, I promised to love you, dear,
But I must be leaving.

O it's broken the lock and splintered the door,
O it's the gate where they're turning, turning;
Their boots are heavy on the floor
And their eyes are burning.


Comments about O What Is That Sound by WH Auden

  • (12/13/2017 9:11:00 AM)


    Wonderful tensión built up as the sense of foreboding grows stronger and stronger, dear. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (9/2/2006 3:01:00 PM)


    I remember this poem from middle school and didn't know the author. I wanted my son to read it, so I did an online search and found this great site. There's something really unforgettable about 'And their eyes are burning.' Disturbing- just the kind of thing he likes! Thank you for making it so easy to find. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: warning, running, change, hair, sun, light, horse, soldier



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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