The Great War

from Poems of the Great War, an electronic edition

Non-Combatant

Before one drop of angry blood was shed

I was sore hurt and beaten to my knee;

Before one fighting man reeled back and died

The War-Lords struck at me.

They struck me down -- an idle, useless mouth,

As cumbrous -- nay, more cumbrous -- than the dead,

With life and heart afire to give and give

I take a dole instead.

With life and heart afire to give and give

I take and eat the bread of charity.

In all the length of all this eager land,

No man has need of me.

That is my hurt -- my burning, beating wound;

That is the spear-thrust driven through my pride!

With aimless hands, and mouth that must be fed,

I wait and stand aside.

Let me endure it, then, with stiffened lip:

I, even I, have suffered in the strife!

Let me endure it then -- I give my pride

Where others give a life.