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

Paul Bewsher

The Dawn Patrol

SOMETIMES I fly at dawn above the sea,

Where, underneath, the restless waters flow—

Silver, and cold, and slow.

Dim in the east there burns a new-born sun,

Whose rosy gleams along the ripples run,

Save where the mist droops low,

Hiding the level loneliness from me.

And now appears beneath the milk-white haze

A little fleet of anchored ships, which lie

In clustered company,

And seem as they are yet fast bound by sleep,

Although the day has long begun to peep,

With red-inflamèd eye,

Along the still, deserted ocean ways.

The fresh, cold wind of dawn blows on my face

As in the sun’s raw heart I swiftly fly,

And watch the seas glide by.

Scarce human seem I, moving through the skies,

And far removed from warlike enterprise—

Like some great gull on high

Whose white and gleaming wings beat on through space.

Then do I feel with God quite, quite alone,

High in the virgin morn, so white and still,

And free from human ill:

My prayers transcend my feeble earth-bound plaints—

As though I sang among the happy Saints

With many a holy thrill—

As though the glowing sun were God’s bright Throne.

My flight is done. I cross the line of foam

That breaks around a town of grey and red,

Whose streets and squares lie dead

Beneath the silent dawn—then am I proud

That England’s peace to guard I am allowed;

Then bow my humble head,

In thanks to Him Who brings me safely home.