Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

  • Mood:

Lie in the Dark and Listen

I've been greatly enjoying a lucky charity shop find: The Cream of Noel Coward, a nice Folio Society book with a gold cover and charming if inexplicable illustrations of a greyhound wearing a monocle and smoking a cigarette (mad dogs and Englishmen in one handy package?).

In it I found this poem, which I had never seen before but which instantly barged into my top ten:

Lie in the dark and listen,
It's clear tonight so they' re flying high
Hundreds of them, thousands perhaps,
Riding the icy, moonlight sky.
Men, material, bombs and maps
Altimeters and guns and charts
Coffee, sandwiches, fleece-lined boots
Bones and muscles and minds and hearts
English saplings with English roots
Deep in the earth they've left below.
Lie in the dark and let them go
Lie in the dark and listen.

Lie in the dark and listen,
They're going over in waves and waves
High above villages, hills and streams
Country churches and little graves
And little citizens' worried dreams.
Very soon they'll have reached the sea
And far below them will lie the bays
And coves and sands where they used to be
Taken for summer holidays.
Lie in the dark and let them go
Lie in the dark and listen.

Lie in the dark and listen,
City magnates and steel contractors,
Factory workers and politicians
Soft, hysterical little actors
Ballet dancers, 'Reserved' musicians
Safe in your warm, civilian beds.
Count your profits and count your sheep
Life is flying above your heads
Just turn over and try to sleep.
Lie in the dark and let them go
Theirs is a world you'll never know
Lie in the dark and listen.

I think it falls down a bit in the third verse, which smacks of throwing white feathers at people, but I believe he was frustrated that he himself was not allowed to go and fight rather than making a point about his fellow-entertainers. And I like the way you're left uncertain whether to pity or envy the airmen.

Also this superb quote:
'With this success came many pleasurable trappings...An abundance of pyjamas...'

Clearly a man after my own heart.

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