Fringford Brook

By Violet Jacob

    The willows stand by Fringford brook,
        From Fringford up to Hethe,
    Sun on their cloudy silver heads,
        And shadow underneath.

    They ripple to the silent airs
        That stir the lazy day,
    Now whitened by their passing hands,
        Now turned again to grey.

    The slim marsh-thistle’s purple plume
        Droops tasselled on the stem,
    The golden hawkweeds pierce like flame
        The grass that harbours them;

    Long drowning tresses of the weeds
        Trail where the stream is slow,
    The vapoured mauves of water-mint
        Melt in the pools below;

    Serenely soft September sheds
        On earth her slumberous look,
    The heartbreak of an anguished world
        Throbs not by Fringford brook.

    All peace is here. Beyond our range,
        Yet ‘neath the selfsame sky,
    The boys that knew these fields of home
        By Flemish willows lie.

    They waded in the sun-shot flow,
        They loitered in the shade,
    Who trod the heavy road of death,
        Jesting and unafraid.

    Peace! What of peace? This glimpse of peace
        Lies at the heart of pain,
    For respite, ere the spirit’s load
        We stoop to lift again.

    O load of grief, of faith, of wrath,
        Of patient, quenchless will,
    Till God shall ease us of your weight
        We’ll bear you higher still!

    O ghosts that walk by Fringford brook,
        ‘Tis more than peace you give,
    For you, who knew so well to die,
        Shall teach us how to live.

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