Forefathers by Edmund Blunden

Title: Forefathers
Date: 1916-19

Here they went with smock and crook,
Toiled in the sun, lolled in the shade,
Here they mudded out the brook
And here their hatchet cleared the glade:
Harvest supper woke their wit,
Huntsman’s moon their wooings lit.

From this church they led their brides,
From this church themselves were led
Shoulder-high; on these waysides
Sat to take their beer and bread.
Names are gone―what men they were
These their cottages declare.

Names are vanished, save the few
In the old brown Bible scrawled;
These were men of pith and thew,
Whom the city never called;
Scarce could read or hold a quill,
Built the barn, the forge, the mill.

On the green they watched their sons
Playing till too dark to see,
As their fathers watched them once,
As my father once watched me;
While the bat and beetle flew
On the warm air webbed with dew.

Unrecorded, unrenowned,
Men from whom my ways begin,
Here I know you by your ground
But I know you not within―
There is silence, there survives
Not a moment of your lives.

Like the bee that now is blown
Honey-heavy on my hand,
From his toppling tansy-throne
In the green tempestuous land
I’m in clover now, nor know
Who made honey long ago

Poet: Edmund Blunden
Born: 1 November 1896, London, England
Nationality: English
Died: 20 January 1974, Long Melford, England

Blunden was a poet, author, and critic. He wrote of his experiences in World War I in both verse and prose. Blunden was also a reviewer for English publications and an academic in Tokyo and Hong Kong. He ended his career as Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature six times.

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