THE English May was slipping into June
With heralds that the spring had never known.
Black cavalry were astride the air;
The Downs awoke to find their faces slashed;
There was blood on the hawthorn,
And song had died in the nightingales' throats.
Appeasement is in its grave: it sleeps well.
The mace had spiked the parchment seals
And pulverized the hedging ifs and wherefores,
The wheezy adverbs, the gutted modifiers.
Churchill and Bevin have the floor,
Whipping snarling nouns and action-verbs
Out of their lairs in the lexicon,
Bull-necked adversatives that bit and clawed,
An age before gentility was cubbed.
A call came in from the Channel
Like the wash of surf on sand,
Borne in by the winds against the chalk escarpments,
Into the harbours, up the rivers, along the estuaries,
And but one word in the call.
Three hundred thousand on the beaches,
Their spirit-level vision straining West!
A vast patience in their eyes,
They had fought pig-iron, manganese, tungsten, cobalt:
And their struggle with hunger, thirst,