In Memory of Robin King
The gardens gone, the orange trees
No longer scented by the sun,
The islands silent, and the cries
Of nightingales forever done:
So seems your life to those
For whom the transient rose
So seems your life. And yet your life has now begun.
The walls you climbed, the forts you built,
The dog that barked behind you, and
The sea-weed treasures left to wilt
While boats were rigged along the sand:
Were those the memories spelt
By childhood, which you felt
Later were spoilt
If mentioned? Happiness too great to understand?
The war at random took your youth,
Put it to boredom, dressed in blue.
The Air Force gave its airy truth:
‘Be kind, and all will honour you.’
And kindness blended with
A boy’s charm was the myth
You read beneath
The casual telling of and demonstrated true.
The war seemed over. You survived,
Though with those wounds that rarely show -
The wounds the laughing have contrived
To hide from all they do not know,
And so are soon outbraved.
But those your goodness saved
Were not deceived.
They saw the hurt swan struggling through the afterglow.
Some write with ease and some do not.
Your books like letters from the sad
Troubled your thoughts for answer. A lot
Of those who write have never had
Your worries to beset
Them, never tried to get
The word to fit
On English days in Spain, no sunlight overhead.
The reading and the writing stop;
The laughter and the odd good-looks
Vanish, it seems, forever. Hope
Is absent from the current books.
And yet your friends will heap
Forget-me-nots and keep
Your memory. I shape
A tall, still living, figure, when remembrance wakes.
Ah, Robin, in those gardens where
Men who were kind to others are,
How does that blue and brilliant air
Compare with Spain and England, where
You lived a little while?
The nightingales compile
Their praise. The real
Rose opens to your heart. And vanquished is the war.