Amphrodite - The OldWinburnians

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A thousand times and more I've sat beside
the ceaseless surge and ebb of tide
and seen amid that seething strife
the fantasy of life

"the wave that on the shore breaks high,
Tell me, whence came it, or whence came I?"
"From the bosom of the deep," replies the lore.
"Granted, but where and what before?

Does life begin and end with death,
like candle flame snuffed out with breath
or mistress who has lost her charm,
cast aside without a qualm?

Is life a chapter of the whole
knit together by the soul?
Nor can the eye of man discern
from whence it came or whence return,

Why can't I lift the veil and see
that which was and is to be,
and answer my impotency
on this my immortality?"

This remarkable poem appears in The Winburnian no. 92, Summer Term 1943. It is by Richard Brinsley Watkins of Broadstone, Lieutenant in the Dorset Regiment. He attended the school from 1932 to 1938. Whilst only 13 he was awarded the Scouts Gilt Medal for attempting to save a man from drowning. At school he was a fine all-round sportsman, champion swimmer and boxer. One of the keenest NCO's, he proved a tower of strength at successive Corps camps. A fellow officer has written " he was a young and enthusiastic officer, combining a genial personality with military efficiency and sound leadership". He fell in his first engagement in Tunisia in 1942. The poem was composed a few months earlier.

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