Tuesday, May 31, 2005


HE stood alone in some queer sunless place

Where Armageddon ends. Perhaps he longed

For days he might have lived; but his young face

Gazed forth untroubled: and suddenly there thronged

Round him the hulking Germans that I shot

When for his death my brooding rage was hot.

He stared at them, half-wondering; and then

They told him how I’d killed them for his sake—

Those patient, stupid, sullen ghosts of men;

And still there seemed no answer he could make.

At last he turned and smiled. One took his hand

Because his face could make them understand
Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).

THE Bishop tells us: ‘When the boys come back

‘They will not be the same; for they’ll have fought

‘In a just cause: they lead the last attack

‘On Anti-Christ; their comrades’ blood has bought

‘New right to breed an honourable race,

‘They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.’

‘We’re none of us the same!’ the boys reply.

‘For George lost both his legs; and Bill’s stone blind;

‘Poor Jim’s shot through the lungs and like to die;

‘And Bert’s gone syphilitic: you’ll not find

‘A chap who’s served that hasn’t found some change.’

And the Bishop said: ‘The ways of God are strange
Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).


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