Many of Michael Thwaites’ best-known poems were written during his war-time naval service. The themes of sacrifice and common purpose remained important to him throughout his life.
Alone to walk the dripping woods of spring
While daisies spy you?
No drums they wished, whose thoughts were tied
To girls and jobs and mother,
This is where the water hurries under the archway,
This is where we enter the long tunnel,
Gone away, away,
Suddenly at a word departed,
Come death suddenly from the sea or cloud,
With the blast of thunder and the blinding shroud,
If I should die, grieve not for youth
Blighted, and towers of hope that fell
In this dread hour for thee and all mankind
Britain, be Freedom’s fortress or her grave.
..The fifth day of November, Fifty North and Forty West,
Was edging to its departure, like an undecided guest,
We lay in Iceland winterbound,
And heard the blizzard blow,
Above the great ship’s lifting bow
I watch the Pole Star nightly stand,
The story, as now we see, was over-written
By Herodotus, bless his warm Hellenic heart!
Could we locate the enemy of mankind
(I mean the GHQ, the Centre itself,
You may not pass this place. Here you must stop,
Though all the world’s great tides run heedless by
Heard how often, still the notes compel
Unused to awe, we stand listening.