The Firing Party

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I shall not see them sweating at that task:It was too much of any man to ask;The death that gets you certain, soon or late;Meanwhile the mess, the mud, the noise, the hate.But I shall see through bandages the whiteCheeks round the gun-barrel, and then night.Was it cowardice from fight's short shock to creepInto a nightmare of eternal sleep;My only fault that I misjudged my spiritAnd volunteered, and now disgrace inherit?Still will bombardment fill the noisy sky,Still will old comrades fight and wonder why;But soon they'll join me .- those that I out-raced,Reaching the goal too early, and disgraced.The flower of sleep will blow on either graveAnd wheat frequent the coward as the brave,Disliking only where the trenches ploughedAnd ordnance delved, the fiery liquids flowed,Where war's red feet his wicked winepress trod,An outrage on the peaceful hopes of God.

© Caudwell Christopher