The Great War

from Retrogression and Other Poems: Electronic Edition

The Surprise

THEY thought they had left him lying well-

nigh dead,

So many javelins had been cast at him.

So many dinting blows

Upon his casque and cataphract had rung,

So many stones had with shrill whirr been

slung.

But whole of heart and limb,

At day droop he uplifted his prone head,

Propped him upon an elbow—suddenly rose—

Woke his lulled sword and the vain scabbard

shed,

Struck out at all his foes,

And got him victory ere the day was sped.