The Next War
Wilfred Owen, (1893-1918)
Written at Craiglockhart while recovering from shell shock in late September 1917
Out there. we walked quite friendly up to Death,-
Sat down and ate beside him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We've sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn't writhe.
He's spat at us with bullets, and he's coughed
Shrapnel. We chorused if he sang aloft,
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.
Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier's paid to kick against His powers.
We laughed, - knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when every fighter brags
He fights on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.
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