Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Commemoration
By Sir Henry John Newbolt (1862–1938)
 
I SAT by the granite pillar, and sunlight fell
    Where the sunlight fell of old,
And the hour was the hour my heart remember’d well,
    And the sermon roll’d and roll’d
As it used to roll when the place was still unhaunted,        5
And the strangest tale in the world was still untold.
 
And I knew that of all this rushing of urgent sound
    That I so clearly heard,
The green young forest of saplings cluster’d round
    Was heeding not one word:        10
Their heads were bow’d in a still serried patience
Such as an angel’s breath could never have stirr’d.
 
For some were already away to the hazardous pitch,
    Or lining the parapet wall,
And some were in glorious battle, or great and rich,        15
    Or throned in a college hall:
And among the rest was one like my own young phantom,
Dreaming for ever beyond my utmost call.
 
‘O Youth,’ the preacher was crying, ‘deem not thou
    Thy life is thine alone;        20
Thou bearest the will of the ages, seeing how
    They built thee bone by bone,
And within thy blood the Great Age sleeps sepulchred
Till thou and thine shall roll away the stone.
 
‘Therefore the days are coming when thou shalt burn        25
    With passion whitely hot;
Rest shall be rest no more; thy feet shall spurn
    All that thy hand hath got;
And One that is stronger shall gird thee, and lead thee swiftly
Whither, O heart of Youth, thou wouldest not.’        30
 
And the School pass’d; and I saw the living and dead
    Set in their seats again,
And I long’d to hear them speak of the word that was said,
    But I knew that I long’d in vain.
And they stretch’d forth their hands, and the wind of the spirit took them        35
Lightly as drifted leaves on an endless plain.
 
 
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