The Night Patrol

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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The Night Patrol is a poem written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Guards Came Through and Other Poems on 16 december 1919.


The Night Patrol

September 1918

Behind me on the darkened pier
They crowd and chatter, man and maid,
A coon-song gently strikes the ear,
A flapper giggles in the shade.
There where the in-turned lantern gleams
It shines on khaki and on brass;
Across its yellow slanting beams
The arm-locked lovers slowly pass.

Out in the darkness one far light
Throbs like a pulse, and fades away—
Some signal on the guarded Wight,
From Helen's Point to Bembridge Bay.
An eastern wind blows chill and raw,
Cheerless and black the waters lie,
And as I gaze athwart the haze,
I see the night patrol go by.

Creeping shadows blur the gloom,
Thicken and darken, pass and fade;
Again and yet again they loom,
One ruby spark above each shade—
Twelve ships in all! They glide so near,
One hears the wave the fore-foot curled,
And yet to those upon the pier
They seem some other sterner world.

The coon-song whimpers to a wail,
The treble laughter sinks and dies,
The lovers cluster on the rail,
With whispered words and straining eyes.
One hush of awe, and then once more
The vision fades for them and me,
And there is laughter on the shore,
And silent duty on the sea.