Oxford Revisited in War-Time
Beneath fair Magdalen’s storied towers
I wander in a dream,
And hear the mellow chimes float out
O’er Cherwell’s ice-bound stream.
Throstle and blackbird stiff with cold
Hop on the frozen grass;
Among the aged, upright oaks
The dun deer slowly pass.
The chapel organ rolls and swells,
And voices still praise God;
But ah! the thought of youthful friends
Who lie beneath the sod.
Now wounded men with gallant eyes
Go hobbling down the street,
And nurses from the hospitals
Speed by with tireless feet.
The town is full of uniforms,
And through the stormy sky,
Frightening the rooks from the tallest trees,
The aeroplanes roar by.
The older faces still are here,
More grave and true and kind,
Ennobled by the steadfast toil
Of patient heart and mind.
And old-time friends are dearer grown
To fill a double place:
Unshaken faith makes glorious
Each forward-looking face.
Old Oxford walls are grey and worn:
She knows the truth of tears,
But to-day she stands in her ancient pride
Crowned with eternal years.
Gone are her sons: yet her heart is glad
In the glory of their youth,
For she brought them forth to live or die
By freedom, justice, truth.
Cold moonlight falls on silent towers;
The young ghosts walk with the old;
But Oxford dreams of the dawn of May
And her heart is free and bold.
–Tertius van Dyke