Geoffrey Bache Smith was a promising young poet as well as friend, fellow student, and fellow soldier of J.R.R. Tolkien at Oxford and during World War I. Smith died on December 3, 1916 from wounds sustained in Warlencourt, France. He was 22. His poem “Intercessional” was written during the war and was published in his posthumous book of poetry A Spring Harvest in 1918.

by Geoffrey Bache Smith

There is a place where voices
    Of great guns do not come,
Where rifle, mine, and mortar
    For evermore are dumb:
Where there is only silence,
    And peace eternal and rest,
Set somewhere in the quiet isles
    Beyond Death’s starry West.

O God, the God of battles,
    To us who intercede,
Give only strength to follow
    Until there’s no more need,
And grant us at that ending
    Of the unkindly quest
To come unto the quiet isles
    Beyond Death’s starry West.

The featured image above is Verdun (1917), by Felix Vallotton who traveled to the front lines during the war. The painting is in the Musée de l’Armée in Paris, and the image is in the public domain.