Sunday, May 27, 2018

BW22: Men Who March Away


This week we are celebrating the anniversary of Thomas Hardy's birthday 178 years ago.  His poem, Men Who March Away, was written and published in the Times on September 9, 1914.  He was inspired by Dorset soldiers marching to the train station on their way to fight in France during World War I.  




Men Who March Away

by

June 2, 1840 - January 11, 1928



What of the faith and fire within us
Men who march away
Ere the barn-cocks say
Night is growing gray,
Leaving all that here can win us;
What of the faith and fire within us
Men who march away?


Is it a purblind prank, O think you,
Friend with the musing eye,
Who watch us stepping by
With doubt and dolorous sigh?
Can much pondering so hoodwink you!
Is it a purblind prank, O think you,
Friend with the musing eye?


Nay. We well see what we are doing,
Though some may not see—
Dalliers as they be—
England's need are we;
Her distress would leave us rueing:
Nay. We well see what we are doing,
Though some may not see!


In our heart of hearts believing
Victory crowns the just,
And that braggarts must
Surely bite the dust,
Press we to the field ungrieving,
In our heart of hearts believing
Victory crowns the just.


Hence the faith and fire within us
Men who march away
Ere the barn-cocks say
Night is growing gray,
Leaving all that here can win us;
Hence the faith and fire within us
Men who march away.


Learn more about the life and poetry and writings of Thomas Hardy through Historic UK, Poetry Foundation, and Online Literature



The poem is fitting as it is also Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. in which we honor those who died in service to our country. The earliest observance began around the time of the civil war

"On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle."

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Our Brit Tripp on  Ichnield Way is taking us to Buckinghamshire this week: 

Situated just outside London, Buckinghamshire is known for its scenic beauty (Grand Union Canal and Chilterns) and high property values with a long and distinguished list of residents. During WWII it was the home base of the codebreaking at Bletchly Park.





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