About this poet

Charles Hamilton Sorley was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on May 19, 1895. In 1900, the family moved to England when Sorley’s father, a professor of moral philosophy, accepted a post at Cambridge. In 1908 Sorely received a scholarship to Marlborough College, and after completing his studies there, he was offered a scholarship to University College, Oxford, in 1913. Before beginning at Oxford, however, he spent several months studying in Jena, Germany. Already a dedicated writer, he sent batches of poems to his mother during this time. When World War I broke out, Sorley was still in Germany, and he was detained for a night at Trier before returning to England. He enlisted in the British Army and was sent to the Western Front as a lieutenant in the Suffolk Regiment. Sorley was killed by a sniper at the Battle of Loos on October 13, 1915. His body was never found, but he is commemorated in a memorial in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey. Thirty-seven of his poems were published posthumously as Marlborough and Other Poems (Cambridge University Press, 1916).

A Sonnet [XXXIV]

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you’ll remember.   For you need not so.
Give them not praise.  For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears.  Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour.  It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“Yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the o’ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook, None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Charles Hamilton Sorley

Charles Hamilton Sorley

Charles Hamilton Sorley was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1895. He served in the British Army and was killed in action at the Battle of Loos in 1915. His poetry was published posthumously as Marlborough and Other Poems (Cambridge University Press, 1916).

by this poet

poem

All the hills and vales along
Earth is bursting into song,
And the singers are the chaps
Who are going to die perhaps.
    O sing, marching men,
    Till the valleys ring again.
    Give your gladness to earth’s keeping,
    So be glad, when you are sleeping.

Cast away

poem
You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each other’s dearest ways we stand,
poem
                                     I  

Saints have adored the lofty soul of you.
Poets have whitened at your high renown.
We stand among the many millions who
Do hourly wait to pass your pathway down.
You, so familiar, once were strange: we tried 
To live as of your presence unaware.
But now in every road on