After the Battle
A P Herbert, (1890-1971)
Published in 1918
So they are satisfied with our Brigade,
And it remains to parcel out the bays!
And we shall have the usual Thanks Parade,
The beaming General, and the soapy praise.
You will come up in your capricious car
To find your heroes sulking in the rain,
To tell us how magnificent we are,
And how you hope we'll do the same again.
And we, who knew your old abusive tongue,
Who heard you hector us a week before,
We who have bled to boost you up a rung -
A K.C.B. perhaps, perhaps a Corps -
We who must mourn those spaces in the mess
And somehow fill those hollows in the heart
We do not want your Sermon on Success
Your greasy benisons on Being Smart.
We only want to take our wounds away.
To some warm village where the tumult ends,
And drowsing in the sunshine many a day,
Forget our aches, forget that we had friends.
Weary we are of blood and noise and pain;
This was a week we shall not soon forget;
And if, indeed, we have to fight again,
We little wish to think about it yet.
We have done well; we like to hear it said.
Say it, and then, for God's sake, say no more.
Fight, if you must, fresh battles far ahead,
But keep them dark behind your chateau door!
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