The nightingales sang all night,
The stars were tangled in the trees
And marvellous intricacies
Of leaf and branch and song and light
Made magic stir in Somecourt Wood.
We slithered in a foot of mire,
The moisture squelching in our boots;
We stumbled over tangled roots,
And ruts and stakes and hidden wire,
Till marvellous intricacies
Of human speech, in divers keys,
Made ebb and flow thro’ Somecourt Wood.
We bivouacked and slept the night,
The nightingales sang the same
As they had sung before we came.
‘Mid leaf and branch and song and light
And falling dew and watching star.
And all the million things which are
About us and above us took
No more regard of us than
We take in some small midge’s span
Of life, albeit our gunfire shook
The very air in Somecourt Wood.
I rose while all the others slept,
I seized a star-beam and I crept
Along it and more far along
Till I arrived where throbbing song
Of star and bird and wind and rain
Were one – then I came back again –
But gathered ere I came the dust
Of many stars, and if you must
Know what I wanted with it, hear,
I keep it as a souvenir,
Of that same night in Somecourt Wood.
The cuckoo wakened me at dawn.
The man beside me muttered, “Hell!”
But half a dozen larks as well
Sang in the blue – the curtain drawn
Across where all the stars had been
Was interlaced with tender green,
The birds sang, and I said that if
One didn’t wake so cold and stiff
It would be grand in Somecourt Wood.
But what he said about it broke
The magic spell in Somecourt Wood.