Ivor Gurney (1890-1937 / England)
Ballad Of The Three Spectres
As I went up by Ovillers
In mud and water cold to the knee,
There went three jeering, fleeing spectres,
That walked abreast and talked of me.
The first said, 'Here's a right brave soldier
That walks the dark unfearingly;
Soon he'll come back on a fine stretcher,
And laughing for a nice Blighty.'
The second, 'Read his face, old comrade,
No kind of lucky chance I see;
One day he'll freeze in mud to the marrow,
Then look his last on Picardie.'
Though bitter the word of these first twain
Curses the third spat venomously;
'He'll stay untouched till the war's last dawning
Then live one hour of agony.'
Liars the first two were. Behold me
At sloping arms by one - two - three;
Waiting the time I shall discover
Whether the third spake verity.
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