The Conflict

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I sang as one
Who on a tilting deck sings
To keep their courage up, thought the wave hangs
That shall cut off their sun.

As storm-cocks sing,
Flinging their natural answer in the wind’s teeth,
And care not if it is waste of breath
Or birth-control of spring.

As ocean-flyer clings
To height, to the last drop of spirit driving on
While yet ahead is land to be won
And work for wings.

Singing I was at peace,
Above the clouds, outside the ring:
For sorrow finds a swift release in song
And pride in poise.

Yet living here,
As one between two massive powers I live
Whom neutrality cannot save
Nor occupation cheer.

None such shall be left alive:
The innocent wing is soon shot down,
And private stars fade in the blood-red dawn
Where two worlds strive.

The red advance of life
Contracts pride, calls out the common blood,
Beats song into a single-blade,
Makes a depth-charge of grief.

Move then with new desires,
For where we used to build and love
Is no man’s land, and only ghosts can live
Between two fires.

– Cecil Day Lewis

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