Born this day in 1881 Farjeon is best known as a childrens writer. She is also the author of the Hymn “Morning Has Broken” set to an old Gaelic air, which was made famous by Cat Stevens, in 1971, six years after Eleanor passed away.
But she saw the men march off to war more than once and this is a very adult poem I give you. Eleanor was good friends with the poet Edward Thomas who died in 1917 at Arras, and remained a lifelong friend of his widow, Helen, publishing their correspondence in 1958.
Now that You Too Must Shortly Go; by Eleanor Farjeon
Now that you too must shortly go the way
which in these bloodshot years uncounted men
have gone in vanishing armies day by day,
and in their numbers will not come again:
I must not strain the moments of our meeting
striving for each look, each accent, not to miss,
or question of our parting and our greeting,
is this the last of all? is this—or this?
Last sight of all it may be with these eyes,
last touch, last hearing, since eyes, hands, and ears,
even serving love, are our mortalities,
and cling to what they own in mortal fears:—
But oh, let end what will, I hold you fast
by immortal love, which has no first or last.