Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Half-Hour's Furlough
Joseph Johnston Lee (1876–1949) was born in Dundee and worked as a journalist and sketch artist, publishing his first book of poems, Tales o’ Our Town, in 1910.
During World War I, he served in the Black Watch regiment as a Sergeant, sending sketches and poems back home to Scotland, chronicling life in the trenches and as a prisoner of war. These were eventually collected in two books of poetry, "Ballads of Battle" and "Work-a-Day Warriors".
The Half-Hour's FurloughI thought that a man went home last night
From the trench where the tired men lie,
And walked through the streets of his own old town—
And I thought that the man was I.
And I walked through the gates of that good old town
Which circles below the hill,
And laves its feet in the river fair
That floweth so full and still.
Gladly and gladly into my heart
Came the old street sounds and sights,
And pleasanter far than the Pleiades
Was the gleam of the old street lights.
Then I came to the glade where my mother was laid,
'Neath the cypress and the yew:
And she stood abune, and she said, "My son,
I am glad that your heart was true."
And I passed me over both hill and down,
By each well-remembered path,
While the blessed dawn, like the love o' God,
Stole over the sleeping Strath.
And from a thorn came the pipe of a thrush,
Like the first faint pipes of Peace:
It slid with healing into my heart,
And my sorrowing found surcease.
Then I awoke to the sound of guns,
And in my ears was the cry:
"The Second Relief will stand to arms!"
And I rose — for that man was I.
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