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George Herbert Clarke, ed. (1873–1953). A Treasury of War Poetry. 1917.

William Noel Hodgson (“Edward Melbourne”)

Before Action

BY all the glories of the day,

And the cool evening’s benison:

By the last sunset touch that lay

Upon the hills when day was done:

By beauty lavishly outpoured,

And blessings carelessly received,

By all the days that I have lived,

Make me a soldier, Lord.

By all of all men’s hopes and fears,

And all the wonders poets sing,

The laughter of unclouded years,

And every sad and lovely thing:

By the romantic ages stored

With high endeavour that was his,

By all his mad catastrophes,

Make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my familiar hill

Saw with uncomprehending eyes

A hundred of Thy sunsets spill

Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,

Ere the sun swings his noonday sword

Must say good-bye to all of this:—

By all delights that I shall miss,

Help me to die, O Lord.