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On the WireEdit

O God, take the sun from the sky!
      It's burning me, scorching me up.
God, can't You hear my cry?
      Water! A poor, little cup!
It's laughing, the cursed sun!
      See how it swells and swells
Fierce as a hundred hells!
      God, will it never have done?
It's searing the flesh on my bones;
      It's beating with hammers red
My eyeballs into my head;
      It's parching my very moans.
See! It's the size of the sky,
      And the sky is a torrent of fire,
Foaming on me as I lie
      Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Of the thousands that wheeze and hum
      Heedlessly over my head,
Why can't a bullet come,
      Pierce to my brain instead,
Blacken forever my brain,
      Finish forever my pain?
Here in the hellish glare
      Why must I suffer so?
Is it God doesn't care?
      Is it God doesn't know?
Oh, to be killed outright,
      Clean in the clash of the fight!
That is a golden death,
      That is a boon; but this . . .
Drawing an anguished breath
      Under a hot abyss,
Under a stooping sky
      Of seething, sulphurous fire,
Scorching me up as I lie
      Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Hasten, O God, Thy night!
      Hide from my eyes the sight
Of the body I stare and see
      Shattered so hideously.
I can't believe that it's mine.
      My body was white and sweet,
Flawless and fair and fine,
      Shapely from head to feet;
Oh no, I can never be
      The thing of horror I see
Under the rifle fire,
      Trussed on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Of night and of death I dream;
      Night that will bring me peace,
Coolness and starry gleam,
      Stillness and death's release:
Ages and ages have passed, —
      Lo! it is night at last.
Night! but the guns roar out.
      Night! but the hosts attack.
Red and yellow and black
      Geysers of doom upspout.
Silver and green and red
      Star-shells hover and spread.
Yonder off to the right
      Fiercely kindles the fight;
Roaring near and more near,
      Thundering now in my ear;
Close to me, close . . . Oh, hark!
      Someone moans in the dark.
I hear, but I cannot see,
      I hear as the rest retire,
Someone is caught like me,
      Caught on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Again the shuddering dawn,
      Weird and wicked and wan;
Again, and I've not yet gone.
      The man whom I heard is dead.
Now I can understand:
      A bullet hole in his head,
A pistol gripped in his hand.
      Well, he knew what to do, —
Yes, and now I know too. . . .

Hark the resentful guns!
      Oh, how thankful am I
To think my beloved ones
      Will never know how I die!
I've suffered more than my share;
I'm shattered beyond repair;
I've fought like a man the fight,
And now I demand the right
(God! how his fingers cling!)
To do without shame this thing.
Good! there's a bullet still;
      Now I'm ready to fire;
Blame me, God, if You will,
      Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .