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Poetry of Direct Personal Experience
Our Collection of Aviation and Military Poetry

Lie in the Dark and Listen
Noel Coward

Lie in the dark and listen,


It's clear tonight so they're flying high


Hundreds of them, thousands perhaps,


Riding the icy, moonlight sky.

Men, materials, bombs and maps

Altimeters and guns and charts

Coffee, sandwiches, fleece-lined boots

Bones and muscles and minds and hearts

English saplings with English roots

Deep in the earth they've left below


Lie in the dark and let them go


Lie in the dark and listen.

Lie in the dark and listen


They're going over in waves and waves

High above villages, hills and streams

Country churches and little graves

And little citizen's worried dreams.

Very soon they'll have reached the sea

And far below them will lie the bays

And coves and sands where they used to be

Taken for summer holidays.

Lie in the dark and let them go


Lie in the dark and listen.

Lie in the dark and listen


City magnates and steel contractors,


Factory workers and politicians

Soft hysterical little actors Ballet dancers,

'reserved' musicians,

Safe in your warm civilian beds

Count your profits and count your sheep


Life is flying above your heads

Just turn over and try to sleep.

Lie in the dark and let them go

Theirs is a world you'll never know

Lie in the dark and listen.

Read by the late Richard Briers during the dedication of the memorial stone presented by Betty McMillan to the crew of 9 Squadron Lancaster I HK788 WS-E

(Lancaster at night picture courtesy Peters Design)

See also 625 Squadron Lancaster I ME684 CF-V

3 crew evading capture, 4 others PoW

(Audio clip courtesy of Nic Lewis and Joe Williams)

Lancaster crew

Lancaster at night

lancaster night contact

Betty with Richard Briers

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 • Last Modified: 29 November 2018, 18:23