On Scratchbury Camp

Along the grave green downs, this idle afternoon,
Shadows of loitering silver clouds, becalmed in blue,
Bring, like unfoldment of a flower, the best of June.

Shadows outspread in spacious movement, always you
Have dappled the downs and valleys at this time of year,
While larks, ascending shrill, praised freedom as they flew.
Now, through that song, a fighter-squadron’s drone I hear
From Scratchbury Camp, whose turfed and cowslip’d rampart seems
More hill than history, ageless and oblivion-blurred.

I walk the fosse, once manned by bronze and flint-head spear;
On war’s imperious wing the shafted sun-ray gleams:
One with the warm sweet air of summer stoops the bird.

Cloud shadows, drifting slow like heedless daylight dreams,
Dwell and dissolve; uncircumstanced they pause and pass.
I watch them go. My horse, contented, crops the grass.

Sigfried Sassoon, “On Scratchbury Camp” from Collected Poems 1908-1956. Copyright Siegfried Sassoon. Reprinted by kind permission of George Sassoon.
Source: Selected Poems (Penguin Books, 1968)
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