The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

Fulfilment

Was there love once? I have forgotten her.

Was there grief once? Grief yet is mine.

Other loves I have, men rough, but men who stir

More grief, more joy, than love of thee and thine.

Faces cheerful, full of whimsical mirth,

Lined by the wind, burned by the sun;

Bodies enraptured by the abounding earth,

As whose children we are brethren: one.

And any moment may descend hot death

To shatter limbs! Pulp, tear, blast

Belov├Ęd soldiers who love rough life and breath

Not less for dying faithful to the last.

O the fading eyes, the grimed face turned bony,

Oped mouth gushing, fallen head,

Lessening pressure of a hand, shrunk, clammed and stony!

O sudden spasm, release of the dead!

Was there love once? I have forgotten her.

Was there grief once? Grief yet is mine.

O loved, living, dying, heroic soldier,

All, all my joy, my grief, my love, are thine.