are men who yet before they are killed
let their veins run cold.
no compassion fleers
makes their feet
on the alleys cobbled with their brothers.
front line withers,
they are troops who fade, not flowers
poets’ tearful fooling:
gaps for filling:
who might have fought
but no one bothers.
some cease feeling
themselves or for themselves.
tease and doubt of shelling,
Chance’s strange arithmetic
simpler than the reckoning of their shilling.
keep no check on armies’ decimation.
are these who lose imagination:
have enough to carry with ammunition.
spirit drags no pack.
old wounds, save with cold, can not more ache.
seen all things red,
eyes are rid
the hurt of the colour of blood forever.
terror’s first constriction over,
hearts remain small-drawn.
senses in some scorching cautery of battle
long since ironed,
laugh among the dying, unconcerned.
the soldier home, with not a notion
somewhere, every dawn, some men attack,
many sighs are drained.
the lad whose mind was never trained:
days are worth forgetting more than not.
sings along the march
we march taciturn, because of dusk,
long, forlorn, relentless trend
larger day to huger night.
wise, who with a thought besmirch
over all our soul,
should we see our task
through his blunt and lashless eyes?
he is not vital overmuch;
not mortal overmuch;
sad, nor proud,
curious at all.
men’s placidity from his.
cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
they should be as stones;
are they, and mean
paucity that never was simplicity.
choice they made themselves immune
pity and whatever moans in man
the last sea and the hapless stars;
mourns when many leave these shores;
eternal reciprocity of tears.