Flowers were blooming at noonday,
In a city garden on earth.
Children fair, happy and gay,
Laughing aloud in their mirth.
Out of the skies above them,
With never a warning wail,
Swept a storm of thunder and lightning,
With murderous steel for hail.
It mowed them down like a reaper,
And thunder-bolts crashed and crushed,
Bruising, and killing, and maiming,
Wherever the storm-clouds brushed.
Christ walked in the garden at eventide,
And in wrath beheld the wreck.
He said “It were better for him who did this deed,
That he were drowned in the deepest sea,
A millstone about his neck.
For he hath offended my little ones,
In their innocent happy play.
But leave to Me the Vengeance,
It is mine, I will repay.”
We buried the broken blossoms,
In a grave in the warm brown earth,
But Christ gathered up the plantlets,
And took them to Paradise.
He planted them all in a garden fair,
Where flows the River of Life.
They are growing there and will bloom again,
In the loving Father’s care.
Where no storms come near, or death or fear,
They will wait for those they left,
And will welcome them in at the garden gate,
United for evermore.
May was incensed by the atrocity which prompted her to write the poem ‘Bombing at Noon of School at Lewisham’. Sandhurst Road School, Catford, in the London Borough of Lewisham, had been bombed on January 20th 1943 as described in a later Diary entry (see 28 Jan. 1943).
The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.
Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?