Ivor Gurney

1890-1937 / England

Blighty

It seemed that it were well to kiss first earth
On landing, having traversed the narrow seas,
And grasp so little, tenderly, of this field of birth.
Prance having trodden and lain on, travelled bending the knees.
And having shed blood — known heart for Her and last nerve freeze,
Proved body past heart, and soul past (so we thought) any worth
For what so dear a thing as the first homecoming,
The seeing smoke pillar aloft from the home dwellings;
Sign of travel ended, lifted awhile the dooming
Sentence of exile; homecoming, right of tale-tellings,
But mud is on our fate after so long acquaintance,
We find of England the first gate without Romance;
Blue paved wharfs with dock-policemen and civic decency,
Trains and restrictions, order and politeness and directions,
Motion by black and white, guided ever about ways
And staleness with petrol-dust distinguishing days.
A grim faced black-garbed mother efficient and busy
Set upon housework, worn-minded and fantasy free —
A work-house matron, forgetting Her old birth friend – the Sea.
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