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A Letter Home

by
 (To Robert Graves) 

I 

Here I'm sitting in the gloom 
Of my quiet attic room.
France goes rolling all around, Fledged with forest May has crowned.
And I puff my pipe, calm-hearted, Thinking how the fighting started, Wondering when we'll ever end it, Back to hell with Kaiser sent it, Gag the noise, pack up and go, Clockwork soldiers in a row.
I've got better things to do Than to waste my time on you.
II Robert, when I drowse to-night, Skirting lawns of sleep to chase Shifting dreams in mazy light, Somewhere then I'll see your face Turning back to bid me follow Where I wag my arms and hollo, Over hedges hasting after Crooked smile and baffling laughter, Running tireless, floating, leaping, Down your web-hung woods and valleys, Where the glowworm stars are peeping, Till I find you, quiet as stone On a hill-top all alone, Staring outward, gravely pondering Jumbled leagues of hillock-wandering.
III You and I have walked together In the starving winter weather.
We've been glad because we knew Time's too short and friends are few.
We've been sad because we missed One whose yellow head was kissed By the gods, who thought about him Till they couldn't do without him.
Now he's here again; I've been Soldier David dressed in green, Standing in a wood that swings To the madrigal he sings.
He's come back, all mirth and glory, Like the prince in a fairy tory.
Winter called him far away; Blossoms bring him home with May.
IV Well, I know you'll swear it's true That you found him decked in blue Striding up through morning-land With a cloud on either hand.
Out in Wales, you'll say, he marches Arm-in-arm with aoks and larches; Hides all night in hilly nooks, Laughs at dawn in tumbling brooks.
Yet, it's certain, here he teaches Outpost-schemes to groups of beeches.
And I'm sure, as here I stand, That he shines through every land, That he sings in every place Where we're thinking of his face.
V Robert, there's a war in France; Everywhere men bang and blunder, Sweat and swear and worship Chance, Creep and blink through cannon thunder.
Rifles crack and bullets flick, Sing and hum like hornet-swarms.
Bones are smashed and buried quick.
Yet, through stunning battle storms, All the while I watch the spark Lit to guide me; for I know Dreams will triumph, though the dark Scowls above me where I go.
You can hear me; you can mingle Radiant folly with my jingle.
War's a joke for me and you While we know such dreams are true!

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