There’s a waterfall I’m leaving
Running down the rocks in foam,
There’s a pool for which I’m grieving
Near the water-ouzel’s home,
And it’s there that I’d be lying With the heather close at hand,
And the Curlew’s faintly crying
Mid the wastes of Cumberland.
While the midnight watch is winging
Thoughts of other days arise. I can hear the river singing
Like the Saints in Paradise;
I can see the water winking
Like the merry eyes of Pan,
And the slow half-pounders sinking by the bridges’ granite span.
Ah! To win them back and clamber
Braced anew with winds I love,
From the rivers stainless amber
To the morning mist above,
See through clouds-rifts rent asunder
Like a painted scross unfurled,
Ridge and hollow rolling under
To the fringes of the world.
Now the weary guard are sleeping,
Now the great propellers churn,
Now the harbour lights are creeping Into emptiness astern,
While the sentry wakes and watches
Plunging triangles of light
Where the water leaps and catches
At our escort in the night.
Great their happiness who seeing
Still with unbenighted eyes
Kin of theirs who gave them being,
Sun and earth that made them wise,
Die and feel their embers quicken
Year by year in summer time,
When the cotton grasses thicken
On the hills they used to climb.
Shall we also be as they be,
Mingled with our mother clay, Or return no more it may be?
Who has knowledge who shall say?
Yet we hope that from the bosom
Of our shaggy father Pan,
When the earth breaks into blosom
Richer from the dust of man,
Though the high Gods smith and slay us,
Though we come not whence we go,
As the host of Menelaus
Came there many years ago;
Yet the self-same wind shall bear us
From the same departing place
Out across the Gulf of Saros
And the peaks of Samothrace;
We shall pass in summer weather,
We shall come at eventide,
When the fells stand up together
And all quiet things abide;
Mixed with cloud and wind and river,
Sun-distilled in dew and rain,
One with Cumberland for ever
We shall go not forth again.
The writer Nowell Oxland was the son of a Cumbrian vicar. He attended Durham School, where he became friends with fellow poet William Noel Hodgson and went on to read History at Worcester College, Oxford. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 6th Battalion Border Regiment in August 1914 and sailed for Gallipoli in The Empress of Britain on l July 1915. Oxland took part in the landings at Suvla Bay on 6 August 1915 where he was killed in action three days later. He is buried in the Green Hill Cemetery at Suvla Bay. His best-know poem, Outward Bound, was published in The Times in August 1915 after his death.