“We who have bowed ourselves to Time”
Geoffrey Bache Smith
We who have bowed ourselves to time
Now arm an uneventful rime
With panoply of flowers
Through the long summer hours…
But now our fierce and warlike Muse
Doth soft companionship refuse,
And we must mount and ride
Upon a steed untried…
We who have led by gradual ways
Our placid life to sterner days
And for old quiet things
Have set the strife of kings,
Who battled have with bloody hands
Through evil times in barren lands,
To whom the voice of guns
Speaks and no longer stuns,
Calm, though with death encompassѐd,
That watch the hours go overhead
Knowing too well we must
With all men come to dust…
Crave of our masters’ clemency
Silence a little space that we
Upon their ear may force
Tales of our trodden course.1
Lieutenant Geoffrey Bache Smith was a poet and close friend of J.R.R. Tolkien. The two met at King Edward’s School in Birmingham where he, Tolkien, and two others, finding they shared a common love of literature, poetry, and languages, formed the Tea Club and Barrovian Society (TCBS). This brotherhood endured after the four friends parted ways at the end of their time at King Edward’s School. All four members joined the World War I soon after its outbreak in 1914. Smith was wounded by a shrapnel when the 19th Battalion, where he was stationed, was bombed on November 29th, 1916. He died four days later. After the War, J.R.R. Tolkien compiled his friend’s poetry into a book titled A Spring Harvest, which was published in 1918.
Geoffrey Bache Smith is included among those listed in the King Edward’s School Memorial Role of Honour 1914-1918.
Today is November 11th. In the British Commonwealth, we remember the end of World War I and those who have fallen in battle during all wars. In honour of this day, here is a recording of The Last Post & Rouse.
Poems from other years:
2021: Lament of the Rohirrim, by J.R.R. Tolkien
1Geoffrey Bache Smith, A Spring Harvest, edited by J.R.R. Tolkien
2 thoughts on ““We who have bowed ourselves to Time,” by Geoffrey Bache Smith (Remembrance Day 2020)”
What a lovely way to commemorate Remembrance Day, Nicole! I consider it very fitting to honor one soldier by sharing some of the poetry he loved so much. Thank you!
Yes, I thought so too. Poetry is sometimes able to put words to feelings we don’t know how to express otherwise.