15 SEPTEMBER 1950, Page 10


In the hush of the fern by deep combe and dark tor, Where the wars of our world are not heard anymore, All, all his tall ships have grown distant and dim,

"It is not the war-drum that brings Drake back to Devon. For nearly four hundred years his heart has never left her."

FOUR hundred years back, when the moon glimmered low Through apple-boughs all blossoming like rose dappled snow, In that earth-sweetened stillness which follows the rain, A lad met a lass in a Tavistock lane.

Ay, she looked like a flower in her leaf-coloured gown, And the name of that lad would soon ring with renown, Though his keels were uncut that should raid the new seas And his great "Golden Hind" lay asleep in the trees.

Now' you'll hardly believe what the blackbirds have sung, That folks so far back could have thought 'emselves young, Yet they stole up that lane with the light growing dim, And his arm was around her, and hers around him.

Never ask for her name. Let the nightingale sing ! She was Devon-itself in the sweetness of spring, Every bud on its bough, every fern in its nook, The breath of the heather, the flower by the brook.

So the lad lost his heart. Then he sailed against Spain, And conquered, and died off the wild Spanish Main. But winds never captured and seas never drowned The heart that in Devon was lost and is found.

All the drums of our death may not roll back the deep Where they dreamed, in their blindness, they'd sunk him to sleep, But deep down in Devon there's more can return Than the moon on the dew, through the dusk of the fern.

But his arm is around her, and hers around him.

(Copyright in the U.S.A.)