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Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Don't Cheer


Don't cheer, damn you! Don't cheer!
Silence! Your bitterest tear
Is fulsomely sweet to-day. . . .
Down on your knees and pray.

See, they sing as they go,
Marching row upon row.
Who will be spared to return,
Sombre and starkly stern?
Chaps whom we knew - s0 strange,
Distant and dark with change;
Silent as those they slew,
Something in them dead too.
Who will return this way,
To sing as they sing to-day.

Send to the glut of the guns
Bravest and best of you sons.
Hurl a million to slaughter,
Blood flowing like Thames water;
Pile up pyramid high
Your dead to the anguished sky;
A monument down all time
Of hate and horror and crime.
Weep, rage, pity, curse, fear -
Anything, but . . . don't cheer.

Sow to the ploughing guns
Seed of your splendid sons.
Let your heroic slain
Richly manure the plain.
What will the harvest be?
Unborn of Unborn will see. . . .

Dark is the sky and drear. . . .
For the pity of God don't cheer.
Dark and dread is their way.
Who sing as they march to-day. . . .
Humble your hearts and pray.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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