The Spires of Oxford

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.

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Born in 1882, Winifred M. Letts was a poet, novelist, and playwright. While British by birth and occupation, her poems of war transcend geography to resonate with any congregation. Letts actually served as a masseuse during World War I and wrote about her experiences. This first-hand understanding provided appropriate and resonating empathy in her poetry about the fallen as seen in “The Spires of Oxford.”

In honor of all the men and women who sacrificed their lives serving for the United States Armed Forces, we stand in memory. We honor them for their service and legacy. And we make sure to stand in gratitude on this Memorial Day.

In remembrance, we present to you the following poem “The Spires of Oxford.”

I saw the spires of Oxford
As I was passing by,
The gray spires of Oxford
Against the pearl-gray sky.
My heart was with the Oxford men
Who went abroad to die.

The years go fast in Oxford,
The golden years and gay,
The hoary Colleges look down
On careless boys at play.
But when the bugles sounded war
They put their games away.

They left the peaceful river,
The cricket-field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Oxford,
To seek a bloody sod—
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Oxford town.

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