The Great War

from War Daubs: Poems, an electronic edition

A Portrait

WALKING among men like a phantom,

With vacant eyes and listless air,

Unmarked, befriended, jeered at, laughed at,

Only smiling in reply

And drawing into self again

Like a sensitive snail within its shell;

Outwardly complaisant, satisfied, serene;

Inwardly, ah! inwardly,

A racked and tortured desert

Empty of everything but dreams--

Desires, ambitions,--dreams that come to naught

But leave the mind limp, exhausted,

Till it sees the world and life

Labelled with " Hopeless."

A ship without a compass

Floundering in dark and forlorn waters;

Seeing no harbour,

Knowing no goal,

But buffeted on relentless winds

That make the framework creak

And the nails burst !

A mind that grinds and grinds and grinds

When there's nothing in it to grind,

Gnawing itself away in frenzied toil,

And producing--

Nothing!