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A Subaltern

 He turned to me with his kind, sleepy gaze 
And fresh face slowly brightening to the grin 
That sets my memory back to summer days, 
With twenty runs to make, and last man in.
He told me he’d been having a bloody time In trenches, crouching for the crumps to burst, While squeaking rats scampered across the slime And the grey palsied weather did its worst.
But as he stamped and shivered in the rain, My stale philosophies had served him well; Dreaming about his girl had sent his brain Blanker than ever—she’d no place in Hell.
‘Good God!’ he laughed, and slowly filled his pipe, Wondering ‘why he always talked such tripe’.

Poem by Siegfried Sassoon
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