Summer 1944, Recollected in Tranquillity

We watched the fiery particle go droning like a midge
Through smoky pearl of skies at evening, over Lambeth Bridge;
It fell to thoughtful silence, as it lost the driving spark,
And plunged to earth at Charing Cross, an angel of the dark.
The smoke-cloud marched down Whitehall, a dervish in disguise,
The gentle sky was blotted out, the grit blew in our eyes.

How many living laggard lay, how many lived no more,
How many sheets of shining glass shattered about the store,
We never knew, and never asked; for we must hear at night
A hundred angel-midges yet bear their impelling light
North-westward through the heavens, or fall about our ears
With great and strident music from strange unhappy spheres.

We did not ask how many maimed, how many living slain;
We put our threepence in the slot, and took the sunset train,
The shrouded, crowded Underground, crammed with the throng of war.
Swaying upon the swinging strap, we did not ask for more;
Thought was no good for thinking; sleep was more sweet than all.
We drifted through the tunnels like the smoke-cloud down Whitehall. 

Published in PUNCH July 30th 1952

Summer 1944, Recollected in Tranquillity

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