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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