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The Send-Off

by
 Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.
Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray As men's are, dead.
Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp Stood staring hard, Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.
Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp Winked to the guard.
So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.
They were not ours: We never heard to which front these were sent.
Nor there if they yet mock what women meant Who gave them flowers.
Shall they return to beatings of great bells In wild trainloads? A few, a few, too few for drums and yells, May creep back, silent, to still village wells Up half-known roads.

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