One evening in late May 1945, after the war had ended, I sat alone in the corner of a Red Cross hut. I listened to the rain and wrote the following poem. The rain ended at sunrise but not the loss of my Lieutenant, and the nymph of flaxen-hair loveliness.

Spring and Rain

"Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean"**

Spring and rain.
He spoke with a placid brow;
Rain slid down his helmet.
On the humped wet grass
We rested.
Three wars had obliterated
The interred here.
His tranquil brow,
his wet stubble,
Held his eyes and lips-
Altars to a neophyte
Offering silent litanies
Of comradeship, trust, love.
His prophetic voice
Speaking of Hope, of Faith, of Love,
And promises.
The rain and mist, a canopy,
Compressing sadness and gray hope,
Spoke of Baal and Mot.

Spring and the golden sun.
He extended his hand
Lying on his own grave
Trivialized by war,
I clutched it, fighting tears
(Soldiers don't cry) not the enemy
"John .... Jesus, Mary, Joseph."
He and she( he knew who she was)
Died to me then.
One to war, one to love.
No longer was there hope, faith, trust.
Seek the resurrection in the rain.

What you heard Sophocles
On the Aegean long ago
I know listening to the rain.

**"Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea

But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating , to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world."
Matthew Arnold, 'Dover Beach'

Return to John Faragher index