Robert Nichols

Robert Nichols
Dawn on the Somme
Last night rain fell over the scarred plateau
And now from the dark horizon, dazzling, flies
Arrow on fire-plumed arrow to the skies
Shot from the bright arc of Apollo's bow;
And from the wild and writhen waste below,
From flashing pools and mounds lit one by one,
O is it mist or are these companies
Of morning heroes who arise, arise
With thrusting arms, with limbs and hair aglow
Toward the risen god, upon whose brow
Burns the gold laurel of all victories,
Hero and hero's god, th' invincible Sun?
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The Secret
Suddenly with a shy, sad grace
She turns to me her lighted face,
And I, who hear some idle phrase,
Watch how her wry lips move
And guess that the poor words they frame
Mean naught for they would speak the same
Message I read in the dark flame
Within her eyes, which say, “I love.”
But I can only turn away.

I, that have heard the deep voice break
Into a sing-song, sobbing shake,
Whose flutter made my being quake,
What ears have I for women's cries?
I, that have seen the turquoise glaze
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Battery Moving Up to a New Position from Rest Camp: Dawn
Not a sign of life we rouse
In any square close-shuttered house
That flanks the road we amble down
Toward far trenches through the town.

The dark, snow-slushy, empty street ...
Tingle of frost in brow and feet ...
Horse-breath goes dimly up like smoke.
No sound but the smacking stroke

Of a sergeant flings each arm
Out and across to keep him warm,
And the sudden splashing crack
Of ice-pools broken by our track.

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Amazement fills my heart to-night,
Amaze and awful fears;
I am a ship that sees no light,
But blindly onward steers.

Flung toward heaven’s toppling rage,
Sunk between steep and steep,
A lost and wondrous fight I wage
With the embattled deep.

I neither know nor care at length
Where drives the storm about;
Only I summon all my strength
And swear to ride it out.

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