The Great War

from War Daubs: Poems, an electronic edition

Lines

It is not sweet to die for one's countree :

I saw a dead man stinking in a trench

Where even flies would sicken with the stench;

Ah! is it sweet to die for one's countree ?

His face had rotted black as ebony,

His eyes were empty, but his teeth were in

And horridly they made his face to grin ;

It is not sweet to die for one's countree.

Yet if--if I the living soul could see

That sings glad triumph songs unearthily,

Then might I make a sweeter song and say,

' Surely 'tis sweet to die for one's countree !'