— TO PERTINAX COB.
COB, thou nor soldier, thief, nor fencer art,
Yet by thy weapon liv'st! thou hast one good part.
Henry Van Dyke
This is the soldier brave enough to tell
The glory-dazzled world that `war is hell':
Lover of peace, he looks beyond the strife,
And rides through hell to save his country's life.
My friend attacks my friend!
Oh Battle picturesque!
Then I turn Soldier too,
And he turns Satirist!
How martial is this place!
Had I a mighty gun
I think I'd shoot the human race
And then to glory run!
Upbroke the sun
In red-gold foam;
Thus spoke the gun
At the Soldier's Home:
"Whenever I hear
Blue thunder speak
My voice sounds clear
But little and weak.
"And when the proud
Young cockerels crow
My voice sounds loud,
But gentle and low.
"When the mocking-bird
Prolongs his note
I cannot be heard
Though I split my throat.
Edgar Lee Masters
Knowlt Hoheimer ran away to the war
The day before Curl Trenary
Swore out a warrant through Justice Arnett
For stealing hogs.
But that's not the reason he turned a soldier.
He caught me running with Lucius Atherton.
We quarreled and I told him never again
To cross my path.
Then he stole the hogs and went to the war --
Back of every soldier is a woman.
THE SEA rocks have a green moss.
The pine rocks have red berries.
I have memories of you.
Speak to me of how you miss me.
Tell me the hours go long and slow.
Speak to me of the drag on your heart,
The iron drag of the long days.
I know hours empty as a beggar’s tin cup on a rainy day, empty as a soldier’s sleeve with an arm lost.
Speak to me …
A little bread -- a crust -- a crumb --
A little trust -- a demijohn --
Can keep the soul alive --
Not portly, mind! but breathing -- warm --
Conscious -- as old Napoleon,
The night before the Crown!
A modest lot -- A fame petite --
A brief Campaign of sting and sweet
Is plenty! Is enough!
A Sailor's business is the shore!
A Soldier's -- balls! Who asketh more,
Must seek the neighboring life!
A E Housman
The street sounds to the soldiers' tread,
And out we troop to see:
A single redcoat turns his head,
He turns and looks at me.
My man, from sky to sky's so far,
We never crossed before;
Such leagues apart the world's ends are,
We're like to meet no more;
What thoughts at heart have you and I
We cannot stop to tell;
But dead or living, drunk or dry,
Soldier, I wish you well.
Yeats died Saturday in France.
Freedom from his animal
Has come at last in alien Nice,
His heart beat separate from his will:
He knows at last the old abyss
Which always faced his staring face.
No ability, no dignity
Can fail him now who trained so long
For the outrage of eternity,
Teaching his heart to beat a song
In which man's strict humanity,
Erect as a soldier, became a tongue.
Who never lost, are unprepared
A Coronet to find!
Who never thirsted
Flagons, and Cooling Tamarind!
Who never climbed the weary league --
Can such a foot explore
The purple territories
On Pizarro's shore?
How many Legions overcome --
The Emperor will say?
How many Colors taken
On Revolution Day?
How many Bullets bearest?
Hast Thou the Royal scar?
Angels! Write "Promoted"
On this Soldier's brow!
Paul Laurence Dunbar
A lilt and a swing,
And a ditty to sing,
Or ever the night grow old;
The wine is within,
And I'm sure t'were a sin
For a soldier to choose to be cold, my dear,
For a soldier to choose to be cold.
We're right for a spell,
But the fever is -- well,
No thing to be braved, at least;
So bring me the wine;
No low fever in mine,
For a drink more kind than a priest, my dear,
For a drink is more kind than a
To these I turn, in these I trust;
Brother Lead and Sister Steel.
To his blind power I make appeal;
I guard her beauty clean from rust.
He spins and burns and loves the air,
And splits a skull to win my praise;
But up the nobly marching days
She glitters naked, cold and fair.
Sweet Sister, grant your soldier this;
That in good fury he may feel
The body where he sets his heel
Quail from your downward darting kiss.
She triumphs, in the vivid green
Where sun and quivering foliage meet;
And in each soldier’s heart serene;
When death stood near them they have seen
The radiant forests where her feet
Move on a breeze of silver sheen.
And they are fortunate, who fight
For gleaming landscapes swept and shafted
And crowned by cloud pavilions white;
Hearing such harmonies as might
Only from Heaven be downward wafted—
Voices of victory and delight.
NOT youth pertains to me,
Nor delicatesse—I cannot beguile the time with talk;
Awkward in the parlor, neither a dancer nor elegant;
In the learn’d coterie sitting constrain’d and still—for learning.
Beauty, knowledge, inure not to me—yet there are two or three things inure to me;
I have nourish’d the wounded, and sooth’d many a dying soldier,
And at intervals, waiting, or in the midst of camp,
Composed these songs.
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
This war's dead heroes, who has seen them?
They rise in smoke above the burning city,
Faint clouds, dissolving into sky —
And who sifting the Libyan sand can find
The tracery of a human hand,
The faint impression of an absent mind,
The fade-out of a soldier's day dream?
You'll know your love no more, nor his sweet kisses —
He's forgotten you, girl, and in the idle sun
In long green grass that the east wind caresses
The seed of man is ravished by the corn.
Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
GOOD FRIDAY in my heart! Fear and affright!
My thoughts are the Disciples when they fled,
My words the words that priest and soldier said,
My deed the spear to desecrate the dead.
And day, Thy death therein, is changed to night.
Then Easter in my heart sends up the sun.
My thoughts are Mary, when she turned to see.
My words are Peter, answering, ‘Lov’st thou Me?’
My deeds are all Thine own drawn close to Thee,
And night and day, since Thou dost rise, are one.
I SALUTED a nobody.
I saw him in a looking-glass.
He smiled—so did I.
He crumpled the skin on his forehead,
frowning—so did I.
Everything I did he did.
I said, “Hello, I know you.
And I was a liar to say so.
Ah, this looking-glass man!
Liar, fool, dreamer, play-actor,
Soldier, dusty drinker of dust—
Ah! he will go with me
Down the dark stairway
When nobody else is looking,
When everybody else is gone.
He locks his elbow in mine,
I lose all—but not him.