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.