The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

In the Trenches

As I lay in the trenches

Under the Hunter's Moon,

My mind ran to the lenches

Cut in a Wiltshire down.

I saw their long black shadows,

The beeches in the lane,

The gray church in the meadows

And my white cottage -- plain.

Thinks I, the down lies dreaming

Under the hot moon's eye,

Which sees the shells fly screaming

And men and horses die.

And what makes she, I wonder,

Of the horror and the blood,

And what's her luck, to sunder

The evil from the good?

'T was more than I could compass,

For how was I to think

With such infernal rumpus

In such a blasted stink?

But here's a thought to tally

With t'other. That moon sees

A shrouded German valley

With woods and ghostly trees.

And maybe there's a river

As we have got at home

With poplar-trees aquiver

And clots of whirling foam.

And over there some fellow,

A German and a foe,

Whose gills are turning yellow

As sure as mine are so,

Watches that riding glory

Apparel'd in her gold,

And craves to hear the story

Her frozen lips enfold.

And if he sees as clearly

As I do where her shrine

Must fall, he longs as dearly,

With heart as full as mine.