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Selected Poetry of Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

The rain is on our lips,
We do not run for prize.
But the storm the water whips
And the wave howls to the skies.
The winds arise and strike it
And scatter it like sand,
And we run because we like it
Through the broad bright land.
        (The Song of the Ungirt Runners, 17-24)
  1. All the Hills and Vales Along
  2. Barbury Camp
  3. Expectans Expectavi
  4. The Song of the Ungirt Runners
  5. To Germany
  6. When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead


Notes on Life and Works

Sorley's father describes his son's life as follows: "He was born at Old Aberdeen on 19th May 1895. His father was then a professor in the University of Aberdeen, and he was of Scottish descent on both sides. From 1900 onwards his home was in Cambridge. He was educated at Marlborough College, which he entered in September 1908 and left in December 1913, after obtaining a scholarship at University College, Oxford. Owing to the war he never went into residence at the University. After leaving school he spent a little more than six months in Germany, first at Schwerin in Mecklenburg and afterwards, for the summer session, at the University of Jena. He was on a walking tour on the banks of the Moselle when the European war broke out. He was put in prison at Trier on the 2nd August, but released the same night with orders to leave the country. After some adventures he reached home on the 6th, and at once applied for a commission in the army. He was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Seventh (Service) Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment before the end of the month, Lieutenant in November, and Captain in the following August. He was sent to France with his battalion on 30th May 1915, and served for some months in the trenches round Ploegsteert. Shortly after he had entered upon his life there, a suggestion was made to him about printing a slim volume of verse. But he put the suggestion aside as premature. `Besides,' he added, `this is no time for oliveyards and vineyards, more especially of the small-holdings type. For three years or the duration of the war, let be.' Four months later his warfare was accomplished. His battalion was moved south to take part in the battle of Loos, and he fell on 13th October 1915, in an attack in which the `hair-pin' trench near Hulluch was captured by his company. `Being made perfect in a little while, he fulfilled long years.'" (William Ritchie Sorley, March 1919, in Marlborough and Other Poems, 4th edn. [Cambridge: University Press, 1919]: pp. vi-vii). See also The Poems and Selected Letters of Charles Hamilton Sorley, ed. Hilda D. Spear (Dundee: Blackness Press, 1978; PR 6037 O7A6 1978).

Biographical information

Given name: Charles Hamilton
Family name: Sorley
Birth date: 1895
Death date: 1915