John Masefield




On Malvern Hill

A wind is brushing down the clover, 
    It sweeps the tossing branches bare, 
Blowing the poising kestrel over 
    The crumbling ramparts of the Caer. 

It whirls the scattered leaves before us 
    Along the dusty road to home, 
Once it awakened into chorus 
    The heart-strings in the ranks of Rome. 

There by the gusty coppice border 
    The shrilling trumpets broke the halt, 
The Roman line, the Roman order, 
    Swayed forward to the blind assault. 

Spearman and charioteer and bowman 
    Charged and were scattered into spray, 
Savage and taciturn the Roman 
    Hewed upwards in the Roman way. 

There — in the twilight — where the cattle 
    Are lowing home across the fields, 
The beaten warriors left the battle 
    Dead on the clansmen's wicker shields. 

The leaves whirl in the wind's riot 
    Beneath the Beacon's jutting spur, 
Quiet are clan and chief, and quiet 
    Centurion and signifer.