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The Question

Written by my great uncle, Horace Boddington Gibbs, who died in World War One on September 27, 1916, aged just 32


Sunset – but yet no peace shall bid the day farewell;

And what, before the dawn?

Sunset – ablaze with beauty; but list the screaming shell,

And God’s fair landscape torn.

Night – but still no slumber comes to watchful eyes,

For war and hate’s aflame.

Night – and the crash of battle thunders to the skies:

And yet, Thy Heaven’s the same.

The harvest moon beams peacefully on the scene

Of mortal suffering;

The Milky Way o’erhead shines glittering and keen

Above the conflict’s ring;

And grey, grim humans stand to arms and gaping gun,

To wrest an earthly crown.

The stars fade swift before the rising sun,

Good Lord, look down, look down!

Morn – and far aloft the lark proclaims the light,

In joyous caroling.

Morn – and sleep-drugged warriors still pursue the fight,

Whilst soaring songbirds sing.

Day – and as the soft rays kiss the tortured land,

The ceaseless turmoil flows.

For the stubborn foe is grappling hand to hand,

And blows are met by blows.

Is it Thy will, O Lord, that Thy fair summer dawn,

And day, and sunset hours

Shall sadly darkened be, so that our babes unborn,

May glory in their sires?

Is it Thy will that Man, made in Thy image fair

Shall shatter and defile?

Is it Thy will that songs of hate shall rend the air?

Or, is it – Man is vile?


H.B.G – Somewhere in France, August 22, 1916

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