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Monday, December 08, 2008

From An Outpost

I've tramped South England up and down
Down Dorset way, down Devon way,
Through every little ancient town
Down Dorset way, down Devon way.
I mind the old stone churches there,
The taverns round the market square,
The cobbled streets, the garden flowers,
The sundials telling peaceful hours
Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

    The Meadowlands are green and fair
Down Somerset and Sussex way,
The clover scent is in the air
Down Somerset and Sussex way.
I mind the deep-thatched homesteads there
The noble downlands, clean and bare.
The sheepfolds and the cattle byres,
The blue wood-smoke from shepherd's fires
Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

    Mayhap I shall not walk again
Down Dorset way, down Devon way,
Nor pick a posy in a lane
Down Somerset and Sussex way.
But though my bones, unshriven, rot
In some far distant alien spot,
what soul I have shall rest from care
To know that meadows still are fair
Down Dorset way, down Devon way.

--- Frederick Coulson

A few weeks before he was killed, Sergeant Frederick Coulson of the 12th London Regiment wrote to his father: "If I should fall do not grieve for me. I shall be one with the wind and the sun and the flowers." Died of wounds 8th October 1916, aged 27.

He was from Kilburn, not far from here. This and more first world war poetry can be found at Remembrance. Further reading: First World War, an archive with seven days of Guardian and Observer articles on the 90th anniversary of the armistice, including more wartime poetry.

90 years on: 1918 - 2008

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