Australia 1914

Gone away, away,
Suddenly at a word departed,
Left their homes and happy labours,
Gone away to war.

Morning shall come
Stepping from wave to wave-top over the Pacific,
Leaping at a bound from the Barrier, lightly shall skim
The beaches, brighten the western plains;
Shall sift and sieve through stirless leaves,
Latticing the silence of southern forests.
Evening follows,
Deep-shadowed in mountains, fiery over desert.
But these neither shall morning find
As once, scattering abroad to their labours
On plain and hill, nor evening aureole
Home returning, these are gone,
Gone away to war.

Now tilts the plough in the half-ploughed furrow,
Now wild things play by unfinished fences,
Cold is the water in the pot among the ashes,
Where the tree falls it lies.
The reins hang loose, the team wanders,
The axe stands in the half-cut trunk,
These their marks: themselves are vanished,
At a word are risen, vanished,
Stolen away to war.

Richard’s choice

Poems of War