A clear, cold, crystal-bodied wind

Another wonderful and evocative poem by Walter Turner.

Kent In War

The pebbly brook is cold to-night,
Its water soft as air,
A clear, cold, crystal-bodied wind
Shadowless and bare,
Leaping and running in this world
Where dark-horned cattle stare:
Where dark-horned cattle stare, hoof-firm
On the dark pavements of the sky,
And trees are mummies swathed in sleep
And small dark hills crowd wearily:
Soft multitudes of snow-grey clouds
Without a sound march by.
Down at the bottom of the road
I smell the woody damp
Of that cold spirit in the grass,
And leave my hill-top camp —
Its long gun pointing at the sky —
And take the Moon for lamp.
I stop beside the bright cold glint
Of that thin spirit in the grass,
So gay it is, so innocent!
I watch its sparkling footsteps pass
Lightly from smooth round stone to stone,
Hid in the dew-hung grass.
My lamp shines in the globes of dew,
And leaps into that crystal wind
Running along the shaken grass
To each dark hole that it can find —
The crystal wind, the Moon my lamp,
Have vanished in a wood that’s blind.
High lies my small, my shadowy camp,
Crowded about by small dark hills;
With sudden small white flowers the sky
Above the woods’ dark greenness fills;
And hosts of dark-browed, muttering trees
In trance the white Moon stills.
I move among their tall grey forms,
A tin moon-glimmering, wandering Ghost,
Who takes his lantern through the world
In search of life that he has lost,
While watching by that long lean gun
Up on his small hill post.

Walter J. Turner

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