A poem that says it all.
To a Mouse
On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!Thou need na start awa sae hasty,Wi’ bickerin brattle!I wad be laith to rin an’ chase theeWi’ murd’ring pattle!
I’m truly sorry Man’s dominionHas broken Nature’s social union,An’ justifies that ill opinion,Which makes thee startle,At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,An’ fellow-mortal!
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!A daimen-icker in a thrave’S a sma’ request:I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,An’ never miss ’t!
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,O’ foggage green!An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,An’ weary Winter comin fast,An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,Thou thought to dwell,Till crash! the cruel coulter pastOut thro’ thy cell.
That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibbleHas cost thee monie a weary nibble!Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,But house or hald,To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,An’ cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,In proving foresight may be vain:The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ MenGang aft agley,An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,For promis’d joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!The present only toucheth thee:But Och! I backward cast my e’e,On prospects drear!An’ forward tho’ I canna see,I guess an’ fear!
I love In Flanders Fields, but this Robert Laurence Binyon poem, written in 1914, gets to me just a bit more. I am not sure why, but the first time I visited Bretteville-sur-Laize Cemetery, the French cab driver who took my there said, of my uncle, “at least he won’t ever grow old.”
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.