“The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still”
The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still
And I remember things I'd best forget.
For now we've marched to a green, trenchless land
Twelve miles from battering guns: along the grass
Brown lines of tents are hives for snoring men;
Wide, radiant water sways the floating sky
Below dark, shivering trees. And living-clean
Comes back with thoughts of home and hours of sleep.
To-night I smell the battle; miles away
Gun-thunder leaps and thuds along the ridge;
The spouting shells dig pits in fields of death,
And wounded men, are moaning in the woods.
If any friend be there whom I have loved,
God speed him safe to England with a gash.
It's sundown in the camp; some youngster laughs,
Lifting his mug and drinking health to all
Who come unscathed from that unpitying waste:
(Terror and ruin lurk behind his gaze.)
Another sits with tranquil, musing face,
Puffing bis pipe and dreaming of the girl
Whose last scrawled letter lies upon his knee.
The sunlight falls, low-ruddy from the west,
Upon their heads. Last week they might have died
And now they stretch their limbs in tired content.
One says 'The bloody Bosche has got the knock;
'And soon they'll crumple up and chuck their games.
'We've got the beggars on the run at last!'
Then I remembered someone that I'd seen
Dead in a squalid, miserable ditch,
Heedless of toiling feet that trod him down.
He was a Prussian with a decent face,
Young, fresh, and pleasant, so 1 dare to say.
No doubt he loathed the war and longed for peace,
And cursed our souls because we'd killed bis friends.
One night he yawned along a haIf-dug trench
Midnight; and then the British guns began
With heavy shrapnel bursting low, and 'hows'
Whistling to cut the wire with blinding din.
He didn't move; the digging still went on;
Men stooped and shovelled; someone gave a grunt,
And moaned and died with agony in the sludge.
Then the long hiss of shells lifted and stopped.
He stared into the gloom; a rocket curved,
And rifles rattled angrily on the left
Down by the wood, and there was noise of bombs.
Then the damned English loomed in scrambling haste
Out of the dark and struggled through the wire,
And there were shouts and eurses; someone screamed
And men began to blunder down the trench
Without their rifles. It was time to go:
He grabbed his coat; stood up, gulping some bread;
Then clutched his head and fell.
I found him there
In the gray morning when the place was held.
His face was in the mud; one arm flung out
As when he crumpled up; his sturdy legs
Were bent beneath bis trunk; heels to the skye.
Siegfried Sassoon's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (“The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still” by Siegfried Sassoon )
Did you read them?
- Picture Puzzle, Heather Burns
- Is a woman free really?, gajanan mishra
- Midnight Blue, Heather Burns
- Rodeo Rogues, Saiom Shriver
- Seek And Ye Shall Find, Saiom Shriver
- Starlove, Saiom Shriver
- Sonnet No: 62 I WERE A CUCKOO, I'D SWE.., Dipankar Sadhukhan
- dreams and reality, Rahman Henry
- To Alex. Cunningham, Esq., Writer, Edinb.., Robert Burns
- So many faces, gajanan mishra
Poem of the Day
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- No Man Is An Island, John Donne
- Alone, Maya Angelou
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Home And Love, Robert William Service
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
- Heather Burns
Udiah (witness to Yah)