Polliciti Meliora

Frank Thompson

As one who, gazing at a vista
  Of beauty, sees the clouds close in,
And turns his back in sorrow, hearing
  The thunderclouds begin. 
So we, whose life was all before us,
  Our hearts with sunlight filled,
Left in the hills our books and flowers,
  Descended, and were killed. 
Write on the stones no words of sadness -
  Only the gladness due,
That we, who asked the most of living,
  Knew how to give it too. 

Editor's note: Thompson volunteered although under age and was commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1940, subsequently serving in the GHQ Liaison Regiment in Libya, Persia, Iran and Sicily. Parachuted into Yugoslavia, he was ambushed in May 1944 with a group of Bulgarian partisans near Sofia. Although he was wearing uniform when captured, he was treated as a spy. 'Tried' at Litakovo, he defended himself in fluent Bulgarian condemning Fascism. He was shot on 10 June 1944. Thompson had a working knowledge of nine European languages. This poem compares with the best of the First World War.

The title of this poem is Latin, and means 'having promised better things'.

Frank Thompson
The Voice of War -- Michael Joseph Ltd (1995)