Swags Up!


J. Le Gay Brereton

GRANT me a moment of peace,
    Let me but open mine eyes,
    Forgetting the empire of lies
And warfare’s majestic increase
    Of national folly and hate;
    Ere I return to my fate,
Grant me a moment of peace.

To what is I would turn from what seems
    —From a world where men fall and adore
    The god that Fear shuddering bore
To Greed in the desert of dreams,
    Unholy, inhuman, impure;
    From the State to the loves that endure,
To what is I would turn from what seems.

No man has been richer than I,
    Though he staggered with infinite gold
    And bought of whatever is sold
Of the beauty that money can buy.
    In the wealth that is lost in the mart
    And is stored in the innermost heart
No man has been richer than I.

Humbly, a pilgrim, I stood,
    Weary and hungry and lame,
    And out of the multitude came
Friends who were better than good,
    Friends who would not be denied
    Where by the palpitant tide
Humbly, a pilgrim, I stood.

Now to my army of friends
    A handful of petals I fling,
    Strays of perennial spring,
Weeds, but the lover who sends
    Bled that each blossom might live.
    This is myself that I give
Now to my army of friends.

Comrade in exile, to you
    Chiefly the gift should belong,
    You who will hear in my song
Echoes of days that we knew
    Blue and deep-droning and clear
    Far in the hills that are dear,
Comrade in exile, to you.

Pause and remember them now,
    Plunge, as you dived in the stream,
    To the sweet cool depth of your dream.
The drooping, sheltering bough,
    The brown rock lettered above,
    The still interfusion of love,
Pause and remember them now.

There as we lay in the cave
    And saw, as an eye of the dark,
    The camp-fire’s slumbering spark,
And heard the cataract rave,
    Your soul and my soul were as one;
    Our life in one channel has run
There as we lay in the cave.

Forth to the task of a man!
    Youth and the valour of youth,
    Force and the ardour of truth
Give you a place in the van,
    Love keeping step at your side
    Chanting aloud as you stride
Forth to the task of a man.

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