Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men/H. D'A. B.

Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men  (1916) 
H. D'A. B., Major, 55th Division (B.E.F., France)

H. D'A. B.

Major, 55th Division (B.E.F., France)


MARTHE of the lowered eyes;
Eyes beautiful that seem to dim
Like violets at the water's rim,
Marthe of the lowered eyes.

Marthe of the pale, pale face;
That shows the anxious soul's suspense,
And sorrow veiled by reticence,
Marthe of the pale, pale face.

Marthe of the heart of gold;
Where hid as in a cloister-cell
Abides her love for him who fell,
Marthe of the heart of gold.

The March

LIKE lances of a phantom-troop
The rain sweeps by in level lines
Where stunted pollard-willows droop
And slag-heaps lift o'er gutted mines.

A sky morose, tempestuous, black,
The low horizon misty-wan,
And silent o'er the long, long track
A khaki column trudging on.

Past gaping roofs and tumbled stalls,
Past dismal yards and hovels damp,
Where eyeless windows mock the walls,
They march with hollow-thudding tramp.

Givenchy Field

THE dead lie on Givenchy field
As lie the sodden Autumn leaves,
The dead lie on Givenchy field,
The trailing mist a cerement weaves.

Abandoned, save for murder's work,
A mine-shaft bulks against the stars,
And fast receding in the mirk
The trenches show like umber scars.

"All's quiet," the sentry's message runs,
Outwearied men to slumber yield;
The rain drips down the hooded guns,
All's quiet upon Givenchy field.


THERE'S a zone
Wild and lone
None claim, none own,
That goes by the name of No-Man's-Land;
Its frontiers are bastioned, and wired, and mined,
The rank grass shudders and shakes in the wind,
And never a roof nor a tree you find
In No-Man's-Land.

Sprung from hell
Monsters fell
Await who venture through No-Man's-Land,
Like a stab in the dark is the death they deal
From an eye of fire in a skull of steel
When the echoes wake to their thunder-peal
In No-Man's-Land.

They that gave
Lives so brave
Have found a grave.
In the haggard fields of No-Man's-Land,
By the foeman's reddened parapet,
They lie with never a head-stone set,
But their dauntless souls march forward yet
In No-Man's-Land.

The Counter-attack

A WAXEN moon hung high in night's black tent,
A ghost-wind in the branches stirring,
And from the ridges tunnelled, scarred and rent,
A deep and sullen boom recurring.

Flash follows flash. A lurid fan-like glare
The ebon vault an instant blenches,
While green and crimson rocket-signals flare
In No-Man's-Land between the trenches.

Shells shriek, bombs crash and thunder, bullets whine,
Tornado hideous, evil-boding,
That rolls in vain against our serried line,
Alert for onslaught, calmly loading.

Now up and at them. Shouts exultant, harsh,
A mêlée of cold steel colliding,
Gaunt shadows grappling in a bloody marsh,
And low moans rising and subsiding.