MAJOR JAMES MILES LANGSTAFF
1ST MARCH 1917 AGE 33
BURIED: VILLERS STATION CEMETERY, VILLERS-AU-BOIS, FRANCE
I see my way as birds their trackless way -
I shall arrive! what time, what circuit first,
I ask not: but unless God send His hail
Or blinding fire-balls, sleet, or stifling snow.
In some good time - His good time - I shall arrive:
He guides me and the bird. In His good time!
James Langstaff's inscription comes from Paracelsus, a long narrative poem by Robert Browning, 1812-1889. It was chosen for him by his widowed mother.
"Major J.M. Langstaff
Killed in action at Vimy Ridge, March 1st 1917. James Miles Langstaff, son of the late Dr James Langstaff, was born at Richmond Hill, Ontario, July 25th 1883. He had a brilliant intellect. Rarely has his career as a student been equalled. After passing the highest actuarial examinations, he entered law graduating at Osgoode Hall in 1912, with the Gold Medal and the Van Koughnet Scholarship. As a soldier at the Front - 75th Battalion, CE.F. - he rose rapidly in rank, was mentioned in despatches, and later was recommended for the Military Cross."
From Canadian Poets of the Great War. Edited by John Garvin 1918
War Shaped Destiny, one of the poems published in the above volume, was found with his effects after his death.
I never thought that strange romantic War
Would shape my life and plan my destiny;
Though in my childhood's dreams I've seen his car
And grisly steeds flash grimly thwart the sky.
Yet now behold a vaster, mightier strife
Than echoed on the plains of sounding Troy,
Defeats and triumphs, death, wounds, laughter, life,
All mingled in a strange complex alloy.
I view the panorama in a trance
Of awe, yet coloured with a secret joy,
For I have breathed in epic and romance,
Have lived the dreams that thrilled me as a boy.
How sound the ancients saying is, forsooth,
How weak is Fancy's gloss of Fact's stern truth.
Much of this information is copied from the Canadian Virtual Memorial site.