Royal Navy Air Station
The piano, hollow and sentimental, plays
And outside, falling in a moonlit haze,
The rain is endless as the empty days.
Here in the mess, on beds, on benches, fall
The blue serge limbs in shapes fantastical:
The photographs of girls are on the wall.
And the songs of the minute walk into our ears;
Behind the easy words are difficult tears:
The pain which stabs is dragged out over years.
A ghost has made uneasy every bed.
You are not you without me and The dead
Only are pleased to be alone it said.
And hearing it silently the living cry
To be again themselves, or sleeping try
To dream it is impossible to die.
The semi-circular and lunar bay
Where the grey stone fall to untidily
The grey volcanic waves: no man, no tree,
Break the cold greenness of the bitten lea-
The scene the orator of memory
Already knew: forbore till now to say.
But on the hill the gun’s black twig, the moan
Of the convoy home from seas instinct with steel,
The hidden spies. The bomber’s slanting keel
As slowly it takes the wind-all the remain
Unwished, undreamed, unknown. They are the days,
The escaping seconds, terrible and real,
Through which I live; which memory will seal
To keep and smear for ever future bays.