Original Text

Persephone in Winter (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1937). p. 13.

1But that was no defeat. Defeat, my friend,
2Is a simple thing, and past your understanding.
3Defeat is no cry in the night, no sudden banding
4Together of men beleaguered, no comrade glance at the end ...
5These are bold colours. Defeat is woven in grey ...
6Defeat is a little smile, a turning away.
7Defeat is no rebel voice thrust down in a clamorous world,
8Nor the bitter cry of the heart that wastes its breath.
9Defeat is a courteous thing, more quiet than death.
10Defeat is the nameless banner not once unfurled.
11For a vanquished horn may ring noble up cleft and hill,
12But defeat is deaf to music. Defeat lies still.
14Yet had they never won to the foam and the dragon-gold gleaming,
15Still had their hearts like prows furrowed some sea of dreaming,
17But defeat is a blind man prone in a cleft of the sunburnt sands,
18And the waves not a bowshot away. But he sees not, nor understands.


13] Macedon: an ancient kingdom in the southern Balkans and northern Greece, center of a powerful empire under Alexander the Great in the second century BC.
Thalatta: Anglicized version of the Greek word Òthalassa, meaning "the sea." Back to Line
16] argosy: a rich source or supply of something; a merchant ship, especially one with a rich cargo. Back to Line
Publication Start Year
Publication Notes

New Zealand Best Poems of 1934, ed.Charles A. Marris (Wellington: Harry H. Tombs, 1934): 14.

RPO poem Editors
Cameron La Follette
RPO Edition