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The Oxford Thrushes

 FEBRUARY, 1917 

I never thought again to hear
The Oxford thrushes singing clear,
Amid the February rain,
Their sweet, indomitable strain.
A wintry vapor lightly spreads Among the trees, and round the beds Where daffodil and jonquil sleep, Only the snowdrop wakes to weep.
It is not springtime yet.
Alas, What dark, tempestuous days must pass, Till England's trial by battle cease, And summer comes again with peace.
The lofty halls, the tranquil towers, Where Learning in untroubled hours Held her high court, serene in fame, Are lovely still, yet not the same.
The novices in fluttering gown No longer fill the ancient town, But fighting men in khaki drest-- And in the Schools the wounded rest.
Ah, far away, 'neath stranger skies Full many a son of Oxford lies, And whispers from his warrior grave, "I died to keep the faith you gave.
" The mother mourns, but does not fail, Her courage and her love prevail O'er sorrow, and her spirit hears The promise of triumphant years.
Then sing, ye thrushes, in the rain Your sweet indomitable strain.
Ye bring a word from God on high And voices in our hearts reply.

by Henry Van Dyke
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