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Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men/The Hon. Evan Morgan


2nd Lieut., Welsh Guards


What of the Dead?

IF in the repose of an arbour
Under a western sky
One dreams of a vast eternal
And one questions the reason why;
Why joy should dissolve into sorrow,
Why pearls should melt in the wine,
And whether the new dawning morrow
Will reckon the close of our time?
If in the repose of the arbour
One gazes on nature around,
Is there some definite answer
In the earth or the sky to be found?
Are we the pawns of a Jevah
That move on a cross-chequered board?
Propelled from the back by a lever,
Controlled, supervised by a Lord?
Given a pen as a plaything
To scribble out poems and plays—
Works that we worship with reverence,
The blossoms of earlier days—
Given a spirit of reason,
Given a mind to attend,
Given a soul filled with treason
To embitter and poison the end?
Is there a peaceful Nirvana?
Is there a rest for the soul?
A bed for the toil-driven Karma,
A telos? a Heaven? a goal?
What of the slain in the battle?
What of the dead on the field?
Foul slaughtered like horses and cattle,
Those men that we use as a shield:
If ever a soul got to Heaven!
If ever soul reaped a reward!
Those whose red blood has been given
A gift to their own native sward:
Those are the ones for a Heaven,
For a peace and a pleasure unknown,
By their work are they all self-forgiven,
Let their blood for His Blood atone.


The World's Reward

To N. S., 1st Coldstream Guards

UNDER what melancholy thought
Laboured we long!
Setting all joy at nought,
We joined the throng
Of striving wretches, battered by despair,
With bursting eye-balls, blood-bespattered hair.

Onward we trudge, a hostile herd,
On through our night;
God's creatures less than beast or bird;
A bloody sight.
Slaves to our own decree, burnt through of fires,
Doubting our Maker's love, or His desires.

Thus through unending pain
We go to death,
Hoping by Death to gain
A happier breath;
Trusting for once, whatever we had doubted,
That Death himself to us, of victory now shouted.

Fed with the failing of our life,
Moistened with gall,
We seek for peace in battle strife,
Food for us all;
So in our fellows' blood our hands we steep,
Trusting that good will come, when laid to sleep.

Great God, with tending hand
Watch o'er our souls,
Speeding from Mammon's land
To other goals.
And when the battlefield gives up her dead,
Let each on angel's breast lay down his head.