‘Before Action’

The Leeds Pals
The 15th (Service) Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment

..Noel Hodgson

By all the glories of the day and the cool evening’s benison
By that last sunset touch that lay upon the hills when day was done
By beauty lavishly outpoured and blessings carelessly received
By all the days that I have lived make me a soldier, Lord. 

By all of all man’s hopes and fears, and all the wonders poets sing
The laughter of unclouded years, and every sad and lovely thing
By the romantic ages stored with high endeavour that was his
By all his mad catastrophes make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my familiar hill saw with uncomprehending eyes 
A hundred of thy sunsets spill their fresh and sanguine sacrifice
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword must say good-bye to all of this
By all delights that I shall miss, help me to die, O Lord.

Ironically, Hodgson’s poem was published 2 days before he died in July 1916. Read these words and try to understand his thoughts. Can we even begin to comprehend the feelings of this young man as he sat in the mud and penned such an emotional verse? Hodgson died, like so many others during the Battle of the Somme.