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About this poet

Charles Hamilton Sorley was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on May 19, 1895. In 1900, the family moved to England when Sorley’s father, a professor of moral philosophy, accepted a post at Cambridge. In 1908 Sorely received a scholarship to Marlborough College, and after completing his studies there, he was offered a scholarship to University College, Oxford, in 1913. Before beginning at Oxford, however, he spent several months studying in Jena, Germany. Already a dedicated writer, he sent batches of poems to his mother during this time. When World War I broke out, Sorley was still in Germany, and he was detained for a night at Trier before returning to England. He enlisted in the British Army and was sent to the Western Front as a lieutenant in the Suffolk Regiment. Sorley was killed by a sniper at the Battle of Loos on October 13, 1915. His body was never found, but he is commemorated in a memorial in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey. Thirty-seven of his poems were published posthumously as Marlborough and Other Poems (Cambridge University Press, 1916).

"There is such change in all those fields," [XXXV]

There is such change in all those fields,
Such motion rhythmic, ordered, free,
Where ever-glancing summer yields
Birth, fragrance, sunlight, immanency,
To make us view our rights of birth.
What shall we do? How shall we die?
We, captives of a roaming earth,
’Mid shades that life and light deny.
Blank summer’s surfeit heaves in mist;
Dumb earth basks dewy-washed; while still
We whom Intelligence has kissed
Do make us shackles of our will.
And yet I know in each loud brain,
Round-clamped with laws and learning so,
Is madness more and lust of strain
Than earth’s jerked godlings e’er can know
The false Delilah of our brain
Has set us round the millstone going.
O lust of roving! lust of pain!
Our hair will not be long in growing.
Like blinded Samson round we go.
We hear the grindstone groan and cry.
Yet we are kings, we know, we know.
What shall we do? How shall we die?
Take but our pauper’s gift of birth,
O let us from the grindstone free!
And tread the maddening gladdening earth
In strength close-braced with purity.
The earth is old; we ever new.
Our eyes should see no other sense
Than this eternally to DO—
Our joy, our task, our recompense;
Up unexploréd mountains move,
Track tireless through great wastes afar,
Nor slumber in the arms of love
Nor tremble on the brink of war;
Make Beauty and make Rest give place,
Mock Prudence loud—and she is gone,
Smite Satisfaction on the face
And tread the ghost of Ease upon.
Light-lipped and singing press we hard
Over old earth which now is worn,
Triumphant, buffeted and scarred,
By billows howled at, tempest-torn,
Toward blue horizons far away
(Which do not give the rest we need,
But some long strife, more than this play,
Some task that will be stern indeed)—
We ever new, we ever young,
We happy creatures of a day!
What will the gods say, seeing us strung
As nobly and as taut as they?

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Charles Hamilton Sorley

Charles Hamilton Sorley

Charles Hamilton Sorley was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1895. He served in the British Army and was killed in action at the Battle of Loos in 1915. His poetry was published posthumously as Marlborough and Other Poems (Cambridge University Press, 1916).

by this poet

poem

I

Saints have adorned the lofty soul of you.
Poets have whitened at your high renown.
We stand among the many millions who
Do hourly wait to pass your pathway down.
You, so familiar, once were strange: we tried
To live as of your presence unaware.
But now in every road on every

poem
                                     I  

Saints have adored the lofty soul of you.
Poets have whitened at your high renown.
We stand among the many millions who
Do hourly wait to pass your pathway down.
You, so familiar, once were strange: we tried 
To live as of your presence unaware.
But now in every road on
poem
A hundred thousand million mites we go
Wheeling and taking o’er the eternal plain,
Some black with death—and some are white with woe.
Who send us forth?   Who takes us home again?

And there is sound of hymns of praise—to whom?
And curses—on whom curses?—snap the air.
And there is hope goes hand in hand with