The Dead-Beat He dropped, - more sullenly than wearily, Lay stupid like a cod, heavy like meat, And none of us could kick him to his feet; -Just blinked at my revolver, blearily; -Didn't appear to know a war was on, Or see the blasted trench at which he stared. 'I'll do 'em in,' he whined, 'if this hand's spared, I'll murder them, I will.' A low voice said, 'It's Blighty, p'raps, he sees; his pluck's all gone, Dreaming of all the valiant, that aren't dead: Bold uncles, smiling ministerially; Maybe his brave young wife, getting her fun In some new home, improved materially. It's not these stiffs have crazed him; nor the Hun.' We sent him down at last, out of the way. Unwounded; - stout lad, too, before that strafe. Malingering? Stretcher-bearers winked, 'Not half!' Next day I heard the Doc.'s well-whiskied laugh: 'That scum you sent last night soon died. Hooray!'
The Young Soldier It is not death Without hereafter To one in dearth Of life and its laughter, Nor the sweet murder Dealt slow and even Unto the martyr Smiling at heaven: It is the smile Faint as a (waning) myth, Faint, and exceeding small On a boy's murdered mouth.
Sonnet: To a Child Sweet is your antique body, not yet young; Beauty withheld from youth that looks for youth; Fair only for your father. Dear among Masters in art. To all men else uncouth; Save me, who know your smile comes very old, Learnt of the happy dead that laughed with gods; For earlier suns than ours have lent you gold; Sly fauns and trees have given you jigs and nods. But soon your heart, hot-beating like a bird's, Shall slow down. Youth shall lop your hair; And you must learn wry meanings in our words. Your smile shall dull, because too keen aware; And when for hopes your hand shall be uncurled, Your eyes shall close, being open to the world.
PREDICTION If I chose Not to bear this child That in me grows, Giving in To the well-respected And learned Philosophies of men, There would be No crash of thunder At my decision; No lightning burst Or loud, condemning voice From heaven, Only bitter knowledge Forever after And the quiet, pleased sound Of Satan's laughter.