by Lieutenant William Noel Hodgson, MC
By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening's benison
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills when day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a soldier, Lord.
By all of all man's hopes and fears
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.
I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this; -
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.
Inspiration for the Poem
The poem Before Action by Lt Noel Hodgson, MC was first published on 29 June 1916 in the weekly paper The New Witness, two days before he went into action with the 9th Battalion the Devonshire Regiment on 1 July 1916.
Before Action - William Noel Hodgson and the 9th Devons, a Story of the Great War
by Charlotte Zeepvat
Published by Pen & Sword Military (5 Dec 2014); ISBN-10: 1783463759 and ISBN-13: 978-1783463756
Find out more about Noel Hodgson and the book about him, published in December 2014, by author Charlotte Zeepvat. Charlotte has researched Noel and the 9th Devons for over 30 years.