World War I produced moving poetry. To me, the most haunting poem of that era was an anonymous one. It is inscribed on a modest headstone of the grave of one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. His name was Hobey Baker.
Hobey Baker was a Princeton graduate. He is the only athlete ever elected to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame. His hockey records lasted for decades. Today, college hockey's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy is called The Hobey Baker Award.
Baker volunteered to serve in World War I. He was one of the first to fly an airplane in war. Tragically, he crashed to his death in Toul, France. He left behind many grieving family members, friends, and fans. We do not know who the author was, but this is the poem written on Hobey Baker’s tombstone:
YOU SEEMED WINGED, EVEN AS A LAD,
WITH THAT SWIFT LOOK OF THOSE WHO KNOW THE SKY,
IT WAS NO BLUNDERING FATE THAT STOOPED AND BADE
YOU BREAK YOUR WINGS, AND FALL TO EARTH AND DIE,
I THINK SOME DAY YOU MAY HAVE FLOWN TOO HIGH,
SO THAT IMMORTALS SAW YOU AND WERE GLAD,
WATCHING THE BEAUTY OF YOUR SPIRITS FLAME,
UNTIL THEY LOVED AND CALLED YOU, AND YOU CAME.
Extraordinary, isn’t it? Such is the power of poetry dedicated to help humanity remember those lost in The Great War.