The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

Old Jim

OUT in that vague, vast "somewhere" of The Line

They killed Old Jim, a proven friend of mine.

Killed him at night, while he was on patrol;

All the company found was just a hole

A damned boche shell had dug out where he'd gone.

The outfit passed the place just after dawn

And saw some bodies; but they couldn't tell

Which one was which. They all were smashed to hell!

They put Jim on the list, "Reported Dead";

"Missing in Action," the home papers said.

I wasn't in The Line when Jim went out.

A piece of shrapnel had hit me a clout

Which kept me pretty quiet for a while--

Gray days when it was mighty hard to smile.

And when I learned Old Jim had topped the ridge

I fell to thinking what a privilege

It was to know him. Jim was just the kind

That stops to pet a dog or help the blind.

The sort you turn to when things don't go right,

And then forget when all the world is bright.

Jim had a kindly eye that seemed to see

The best in men. What could he see in me?

I never knew; but Jim was always glad

To give me half of everything he had.

That's why, you see, it cut me mighty deep

To know Old Jim was Out There--in a heap.

I've said Old Jim was not identified.

All the outfit ever knew was--he died!

And though there is no way to prove it's so

This Unknown Soldier is Old Jim. I know!

The Congress Medal and the D. S. C.,

Have been given this Lost Identity;

And knowing that they both were earned by him,

I know the Unknown Soldier is--Old Jim!