Lie in the dark and listen

Noel Coward‘s poem was inspired by a night he spent listening to bombers heading overhead for a raid on Cologne.

Lie in the dark and listen
It’s clear tonight so they’re flying high
Hundreds of them, thousands perhaps
Riding the icy, moonlit sky
Men, machinery, bombs and maps
Altimeters and guns and charts
Coffee, sandwiches, fleece-lined boots
Bones and muscles and minds and hearts
English saplings with English roots
Deep in the earth they’ve left below
Lie in the dark and let them go
Lie in the dark and listen

Lie in the dark and listen
They’re going over in waves and waves
High above villages, hills and streams
Country churches and little graves
And little citizens’ worried dreams
Very soon they’ll have reached the sea
And far below them will lie the bays
And cliffs and sands where they used to be
Taken for summer holidays
Lie in the dark and let them go
Lie in the dark and listen

Lie in the dark and listen
City magnates and steel contractors
Factory workers and politicians
Soft, hysterical little actors
Ballet dancers, ‘Reserved’ musicians
Safe in your warm, civilian beds
Count your profits and count your sheep
Life is flying above your heads
Just turn over and try to sleep.
Lie in the dark and let them go
Theirs is a world you’ll never know
Lie in the dark and listen.

Noel Coward, 1944

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