An Evening Dream

I'm leaning where you loved to lean in eventides of old,
The sun has sunk an hour ago behind the treeless wold,
In this old oriel that we loved how oft I sit forlorn,
Gazing, gazing, up the vale of green and waving corn.
The summer corn is in the ear, thou knowest what I see
Up the long wide valley, and from seldom tree to tree,
The serried corn, the serried corn, the green and serried corn,
From the golden morn till night, from the moony night till morn.
I love it, morning, noon, and night, in sunshine and in rain,
For being here it seems to say, 'The lost come back again.'
And being here as green and fair as those old fields we knew,
It says, 'The lost when they come back, come back unchanged and true.'
But more than at the shout of morn, or in the sleep of noon,
Smiling with a smiling star, or wan beneath a wasted moon,
I love it, soldier brother! at this weird dim hour, for then
The serried ears are swords and spears, and the fields are fields of men.
Rank on rank in faultless phalanx stern and still I can discern,
Phalanx after faultless phalanx in dumb armies still and stern;
Army on army, host on host, till the bannered nations stand,
As the dead may stand for judgment silent on the o'erpeopled land.
Not a bayonet stirs: down sinks the awful twilight, dern and dun,
On an age that waits its leader, on a world that waits the sun.
Then your dog-I know his voice-cries from out the courtyard nigh,
And my love too well interprets all that long and mournful cry!
In my passion that thou art not, lo! I see thee as thou art,
And the pitying fancy brings thee to assuage the anguished heart.
'Oh my brother!' and my bosom's throb of welcome at the word,
Claps a hundred thousand hands, and all my legions hail thee lord.
And the vast unmotioned myriads, front to front, as at a breath,
Live and move to martial music, down the devious dance of death.
Ah, thou smilest, scornful brother, at a maiden's dream of war!
And thou shakest back thy locks as if-a glow-worm for thy star-
I dubbed thee with a blade of grass, by earthlight, in a fairy ring,
Knight o' the garter o' Queen Mab, or lord in waiting to her king.
Brother, in thy plumèd pride of tented field and turretted tower,
Smiling brother, scornful brother, darest thou watch with me one hour?
Even now some fate is near, for I shake and know not why,
And a wider sight is orbing, orbing, on my moistened eye,
And I feel a thousand flutterings round my soul's still vacant field,
Like the ravens and the vultures o'er a carnage yet unkilled.
Hist! I see the stir of glamour far upon the twilight wold,
Hist! I see the vision rising! List! and as I speak behold!
These dull mists are mists of morning, and behind yon eastern hill,
The hot sun abides my bidding: he shall melt them when I will.
All the night that now is past, the foe hath laboured for the day,
Creeping thro' the stealthy dark, like a tiger to his prey.
Throw this window wider! Strain thine eyes along the dusky vale!
Art thou cold with horror? Has thy bearded cheek grown pale?
'Tis the total Russian host, flooding up the solemn plain,
Secret as a silent sea, mighty as a moving main!
Oh, my country! is there none to rouse thee to the rolling sight?
Oh thou gallant sentinel who has watched so oft so well, must thou sleep this only night?
So hath the shepherd lain on a rock above a plain,
Nor beheld the flood that swelled from some embowelled mount of woe,
Waveless, foamless, sure and slow,
Silent o'er the vale below,
Till nigher still and nigher comes the seeth of fields on fire,
And the thrash of falling trees, and the steam of rivers dry,
And before the burning flood the wild things of the wood
Skulk and scream, and fight, and fall, and flee, and fly.
A gun! and then a gun! I' the far and early sun
Dost thou see by yonder tree a fleeting redness rise,
As if, one after one, ten poppies red had blown,
And shed in a blinking of the eyes?
They have started from their rest with a bayonet at each breast,
Those watchers of the west who shall never watch again!
'Tis nought to die, but oh, God's pity on the woe
Of dying hearts that know they die in vain!
Beyond yon backward height that meets their dying sight,
A thousand tents are white, and a slumbering army lies.
'Brown Bess,' the sergeant cries, as he loads her while he dies,
'Let this devil's deluge reach them, and the good old cause is lost.'
He dies upon the word, but his signal gun is heard,
Yon ambush green is stirred, yon labouring leaves are tost,
And a sudden sabre waves, and like dead from opened graves,
A hundred men stand up to meet a host.
Dumb as death, with bated breath,
Calm u
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Sydney Thompson Dobell

Sydney Thompson Dobell, English poet and critic, was born at Cranbrook, Kent. more…

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"An Evening Dream" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 3 Jun 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/35866/an-evening-dream>.

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