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 . A Petition

    ALL that a man might ask thou has given me, England,
    Birthright and happy childhood's long heart's-ease,
    And love whose range is deep beyond all sounding
    And wider than all seas:
    A heart to front the world and find God in it,
    Eyes blind enow but not too blind to see
    The lovely things behind the dross and darkness,
    And lovelier things to be;
    And friends whose loyalty time nor death shall weaken
    And quenchless hope and laughter's golden store --
    All that a man might ask thou has given me, England,
    Yet grant thou one thing more:
    That now when envious foes would spoil thy splendour,
    Universed in arms, a dreamer such as I,
    May in thy ranks be deemed not unworthy,
    England, for thee to die.

    Robert Ernest Vernède

 . To Our Fallen

    YE SLEEPERS, who will sing you?
    We can but give our tears --
    Ye dead men, who shall bring you
    Fame in the coming years?
    Brave souls . . . but who remembers
    The flame that fired your embers? . . .
    Deep, deep the sleep that holds you
    Who one time had no peers.

    Yet maybe Fame's but seeming
    And praise you'd set aside,
    Content to go on dreaming,
    Yea, happy to have died
    If of all things you prayed for --
    All things your valour paid for --
    One prayer is not forgotten,
    One purchase not denied.

    But God grants your dear England
    A strength that shall not cease
    Till she have won for all the Earth
    From ruthless men release,
    And made supreme upon her
    Mercy and Truth and Honour --
    Is this the thing you died for?
    Oh, Brothers, sleep in peace!

    December 1914

    Robert Ernest Vernède

 . To C. H. V.

    WHAT shall I bring to you, wife of mine?
    When I come back from the war?
    A ribbon your dear brown hair to twine?
    A shawl from a Berlin store?
    Say, should I choose you some Prussian hack
    When the Uhlans we overwhelm?
    Shall I bring you a Potsdam goblet back
    And the crest from a prince's helm?

    Little you'd care what I laid at your feet.
    Ribbon or crest or shawl--
    What if I bring you nothing, sweet,
    Nor maybe come home at all?
    Ah, but you'll know, Brave Heart, you'll know
    Two things I'll have kept to send:
    Mine honour for which you bade me go
    And my love--my love to the end.

    Robert Ernest Vernède

 . The July Garden

    IT'S July in my garden; and steel-blue are the globe-thistles
    And French grey the willows that bow to every breeze;
    And deep in every currant bush a robber blackbird whistles
    "I'm picking, I'm picking, I'm picking these!"

    So off I go to rout them, and find instead I'm gazing
    At clusters of delphiniums--the seed was small and brown,
    But these are spurs that fell from heaven and caught the most amazing
    Colours of the welkin's own as they came hurtling down.

    And then some roses catch my eye, or maybe some Sweet Williams
    Or pink and white and purple petals of Canterbury bells,
    Or pencilled violas that peep between the three-leaved trilliums
    Or red-hot pokers all aglow or poppies that cast spells--

    And while I stare at each in turn I quite forget or pardon
    The blackbirds--and the blackguards--that keep robbing me of pie;
    For what do such things matter when I have so fair a garden,
    And what is half so lovely as my garden in July?

    Standon, July 1914

    Robert Ernest Vernède


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