The Great War

from The Holy War, an electronic edition

The Broken Soldier

To Earl Grey

The broken soldier sings and whistles day to dark;

He's but the remnant of a man, maimed and half-blind,

But the soul they could not harm goes singing like the lark,

Like the incarnate Joy that will not be confined.

The Lady at the Hall has given him a light task,

He works in the gardens as busy as a bee;

One hand is but a stump and his face a pitted mask;

The gay soul goes singing like a bird set free.

Whistling and singing like a linnet on wings;

The others stop to listen, leaning on the spade,

Whole men and comely, they fret at little things.

The soul of him's singing like a thrush in a glade.

Hither and thither, hopping, like Robin on the grass,

The soul in the broken man is beautiful and brave;

And while he weeds the pansies and the bright hours pass

The bird caught in the cage whistles its joyous stave.