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Richard Francis Burton

(1821 - 1890 / England)

The Forefather


HERE at the country inn,
I lie in my quiet bed,
And the ardent onrush of armies
Throbs and throbs in my head.

Why, in this calm, sweet place,
Where only silence is heard,
Am I ware of the crash of conflict,—
Is my blood to battle stirred?

Without, the night is blessed
With the smell of pines, with stars;
Within, is the mood of slumber,
The healing of daytime scars.

’T is strange,—yet I am thrall
To epic agonies;
The tumult of myriads dying
Is borne to me on the breeze.

Mayhap in the long ago
My forefather grim and stark
Stood in some hell of carnage,
Faced forward, fell in the dark;

And I, who have always known
Peace with her dove-like ways,
Am gripped by his martial spirit
Here in the after days.

I cannot rightly tell:
I lie, from all stress apart,
And the ardent onrush of armies
Surges hot through my heart.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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