Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A War Poem of Young and Old

Young and Old

Young. What makes the dale so strange, my dear?
     What makes the dale so strange?
Old. The men have gone from the dale, my dear,
     And that makes all the change.

Young. The lanes and glens are still at night,
    No laughter or songs I hear.
Old. Our lover-lads have marched to the fight
    And maidens are lonely, my dear.

Young. The kine are slow to come to the call
    That once were all so quick.
Old. They miss the voice known best of all,
     Of John or brother Dick.

Young. And will the dale be always strange
     And dull and sad, my dear?
Old. Ay, lassie, we shall feel the change
     For many a mournful year.

Henry Allsopp from Songs from a Dale in War Time, 1915


  1. That last stanza contains some serious darkness.

  2. Black mark! Seldom have I seen this blog illustrated with a less appropriate image. Allsopp did not write about gawky mid-west hayseeds, but of solid, taciturn (I generalise dreadfully!) Dalesmen from the north of England, who got on wi' job wi'out dramatics. Yes Bryan, there's a darkness there, as there is in much of this short collection of 30-odd poems (easily accessible on the web). Allsop was regarded politely, or perhaps more than that, in his day, but his name rapidly faded.

    1. Darkness indeed, Brian. So many of those poems are directly about loss and suffering.