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Sunday, September 03, 2017

UK: The Clock Tower

Photo: SAS Regimental Association

The clock pictured above stands at Stirling Lines, Hereford, the headquarters of 22 Special Air Services Regiment, part of UK Special Forces. It is a memorial, bearing on it the names of those who died on active service. Also inscribed there is a quotation from James Elroy Flecker:

We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further...

I came across a passing reference to this in Chris Ryan's 2005 thriller "Blackout" (one with half an eye to younger readers, a trend now being developed more systematically by his former SAS Bravo Two Zero teammate Andy McNab). 

The lines are taken from Flecker's 1913 play "Hassan: The Story of Hassan of Baghdad and How He Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand."

Some poetry makes your throat tighten: here is a little more of that scene...

 But who are ye in rags and rotten shoes,
You dirty-bearded, blocking up the way?

We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further; it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lies a prophet who can understand
Why men were born: but surely we are brave,
Who take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

1 comment:

Twilight said...

Lovely "throat-tightening" lines - indeed! Your mention of James Elroy Flecker set my long-term memory mechanics creaking away. I'd forgotten all about Flecker, but did recall I'd once known at least one of his, by heart. Searched and found it - "The Old Ships". Thanks for the memory! :-)