Nathan Percy Graham portrait
Percy Graham, 1920,
a posthumous portrait
by Estella Graham

THE POEMS OF N. P. GRAHAM (1895-1920)


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–~–~– How Do You Sleep . . . ? –~–~–
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HOW do you sleep, with that harsh music dinned
Like the loud rumble of a Vulcan's forge
into your ears, and swelling with the day
Into a thousand thunders that vibrate
And echo all along the quaking valley,
Brother of ours, and troubles not your dreaming
When the great redness flashes down the day,
And stabs a myriad wounds along the mists?
Have you no word for all your lone companions
That lie beside you where the valleys shake,
And say no word, and make no sign, but lie
Sleeping like you, and dreaming as you dream?
Hero . . . brave . . .
"Brave," we have called you that have died for us.
"For us," my God! for us that sent you there,
And plume ourselves because you thought us fit
To die for: we who took your sacrifice
With hand on heart, eyes heavenward, and shed
A tear or two in token of our thanks;
Who took your life and gave an epitaph;
"Dulce et decorum," we said to you,
Then put the deed apart with a platitude
Out of our hearts, or sent it shivering
Round to the cold back-door of charity
To claim its unavoidable reward!
O men, O brothers, always was it thus,
Even from the first faint flicker of the world,
That sent the blood-cry ringing down the ages:
"For us! for us!" and never a word of doubt!
For us the rivers of the world have flowed
Down to the seas that met them in our name.
Ours is the land, the air, the universe,
Night-time and day, seasons and ceaseless time;
Whispers of winds, carols of birds in trees;
Colour and fragrance of the countless throng
Of flowers, and all Pomona's wealth of fruits;
Drowsiness of noon, delights of dawn,
Sweetness of spring, and summer's golden dreams.
Golden dreams . . . . .
Dream on, O silent brother! Let your heart,
Cold in the chilling mists of death and dews
That bathe the whole grim valley in their breath
And wreathe and hover like a ghostly pall
In silent sorrow for your loneliness,
Take comfort in the carols of the birds
That sing their song from morn till eve for you.
And wheel and glide across a friendless sky
To bring you hope. Take comfort in the stars
That twinkle calm and pure and bright above,
And send their message through the upper air
To soothe the throbbing pain in human hearts.
Eat of the earth's fruits, pluck its flowers, and drain
Your full delight of nectar from their cups.
The gods will feed you on ambrosia,
And soothe your sleep with zephyrs, and your dreams
Shall be one everlasting tale of bliss,
Because you're man and all the earth is man's!
Weep not, O brother, you have died for man,
To make his earth more pleasant, to provide
A passing sport to keep his eyes in trim,
We, the great masters of the universe,
Have grown impatient of the scheme of things.
"All streams," we said, "are flowing to one end."
. . . . . .

 


How do you sleep, with that harsh music dinned . . . . . Into your ears?

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Illustration by Estella Bessie Graham, 1920 >

Copyright Philip Graham & Janet (Graham) O'Meara, 2004. All rights reserved