Saturday, September 24, 2016

CAPTAIN GUYNEMER, a poem

Captain Georges Guynemer
(1894-1917)
WHAT high adventure, in what world afar,
Follows to-day,
Mid ampler air,
Heroic Guynemer?
What star,
Of all the myriad planets of our night,
Is by his glowing presence made more bright
Who chose the Dangerous way,
Scorning, while brave men died, ignobly safe to stay?

Into the unknown Vast,
Where few could follow him, he passed,—
On to the gate—the shadowy gate—
Of the Forbidden,
Seeking the knowledge jealous Fate
Had still so carefully from mortals hidden.
With vision falcon-keen,
His eyes beheld what others had not seen,
And his soul, with as clear a gaze,
Pierced through each clouded maze
Straight to the burning heart of things, and knew
The lying from the true.

A dweller in Immensity,
Of naught afraid,
He saw the havoc Tyranny had made,—
Saw the relentless tide of War's advance,
And high of heart and free,
Vowed his young life to Liberty—
And France!

O Compi├Ęgne! be proud of him—thy son,—
The greatest of the eagle brood,—
Who with intrepid soul the foe withstood,
And rests, his victories won!
Mourn not uncomforted, but rather say:—
His wings were broken, but he led the way
Where myriad stronger wings shall follow;
For Wrong shall not hold lasting sway,
To break the World's heart, nor betray
With cruel pledges hollow!

To us the battle draweth near.
We dedicate ourselves again,
Remembering, O Compi├Ęgne!
Thy Charioteer—
Thy peerless one, who died to make men free,
And in Man's grateful heart shall live immortally!

"Captain Guynemer" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in A Treasury of War Poetry (1917).

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