Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Nathan Percy Graham (1895 - 1920) – British WW1 soldier poet

Nathan Percy Graham was born in London, UK on 30th August 1895.

Nathan was educated at the City of London School and University College, London where he studied engineering.   He joined the Officers Training Corps (OTC) at University, was commissioned into The Royal Garrison Artillery and sent to France in August 1916.

Nathan saw active service on the Western Front at Ypres, Messines (Mesen) and Passchendaele, after which he was sent back to Britain suffering from shell-shock.  He was sent to Crailockhart Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment and was given a medical discharge in December 1917. 

After his discharge, Nathan returned to his university studies and edited the Union Magazine at UCL.  Following his graduation in June 1919, Nathan went to work as an engineer in Bolton, Lancashire, where he died in June 1920.

Nathan Percy Graham’s WW1 collection “Poems” was published by Arrowsmith, Bristol in 1921.

“The Passing of the Day”

In the perfume-breath of even,
'Twixt the sun-glare and the night,
ere yet Venus from the heaven
Has put the day to flight,
When the poppy's strength is waning,
And the daisy's eye 'gins close,
And the lonely owl's complaining
Proclaims the day's repose,
And the zephyr-kiss of twilight stirs the dew-drop in the rose.

God has made this time for thinking
Of the ones that we love best;
When the tired sun is sinking
On his couch beyond the West.
He has giv'n this hour of leisure,
Whose moments quietly glide,
That the hours of pain and pleasure
And poverty and pride
May be driven from our memory by the calm of eventide.

For the tranquil is a token
Of the love of friend for friend,
of the lover's love unspoken,
Of the friendless journey's end;
For the heart that droops with sorrow,
And the spirit that is grey
May forget until the morrow
The ghosts that haunt the way;
'Tis the time to think of loved ones at the passing of the day.

 “Tired Eyes”

Tired eyes and aching heart,
Why do you weep?
Why do you stand, pulling your flowers apart,
Tired eyes, searching their sanctity?
Oh, let life keep
Its bright illusions framed so tenderly!
The rose is no hundred leaves,
But one fair flower;
The firmament no myriad twinkling stars,
But one bright sky.
Sky, rose and life are one eternally
With unwilled dreams and faint-heard symphonies,
Wherein fair fancy weaves
Heart-aches and happy hours,
Cymbals and scimitars,
In one gay artless rosary. Oh, why
Pluck all the petals from your fleeting flowers?
Driving your visions from their vale of sleep,
Tearing your dreams apart –
Tired eyes and aching heart,
Why do you weep?

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and
Poems from