Here Dead We Lie--A.E. Housman
Here dead we lie because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.
Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young.
Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They maybe to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why true Poets
~Wilfred Owen, from a preface to a planned book of his poetry.
Ungrudgingly and spent
Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain?
A bird among the rain-wet lilac sings--
But we, how shall we turn to little things
Out there, we've walked quite friendly up to Death;
Sat down an eaten with him, cool and bland, -
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We've sniffed the green thick odour of his breath, -
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn't writhe.
He's spat at us with bullets and he's coughed
Shrapnel. We chorused when he sang aloft;
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.
Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier's paid to kick against his powers.
We laughed, knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars; when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death - for lives; not men - for flags.