The fight was over, and the battle won
A soldier, who beneath his chieftain’s eye
Had done a might deed and done it well,
And done it as the world will have it done—
A stab, a curse, some quick play of the butt,
Two skulls cracked crosswise, but the colours saved—
Proud of his wounds, proud of the promised cross,
Turned to his rear-rank man, who on his gun
Leant heavily apart. ‘Ho, friend!’ he called,
‘You did not fight then: were you left behind?
I saw you not.’ The other turned and showed
A gapping, red-lipped wound upon his breast.
‘Ah,’ said he sadly, ‘I was in the smoke!’
Threw up his arms, shivered, and fell and died.
Thursday, January 1, 2004