The Last Post Poem by Carol Ann Duffy

The Last Post

Rating: 4.5


In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud ...
but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood
run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
see lines and lines of British boys rewind
back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home -
mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers
not entering the story now
to die and die and die.
Dulce - No - Decorum - No - Pro patria mori.
You walk away.
You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet)
like all your mates do too -
Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert -
and light a cigarette.
There's coffee in the square,
warm French bread
and all those thousands dead
are shaking dried mud from their hair
and queuing up for home. Freshly alive,
a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released
from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.
You lean against a wall,
your several million lives still possible
and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food.
You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile.
If poetry could truly tell it backwards,
then it would.

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Michael Morgan 29 August 2015

wonderful pulsation and line-measurement; makes the concept of free verse logical

2 0 Reply
Bhagabat Prasad Hotta 13 November 2018

So beautiful poem... . .I enjoyed this poem. So nice..........

1 2 Reply
Bhagabat Prasad Hotta 13 November 2018

Beautiful poem.. ....so nice poem......10++++++++++++

1 1 Reply

I appreciate your lines. Wonderful poem.

1 0 Reply
Tom Billsborough 24 October 2017

If only we could unwrap events in this way. So moving.

1 0 Reply
Bill Wright 22 April 2016

I have never thought of Carol Ann Duffy as a War Poet, but this is excellent.

5 1 Reply
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Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy

Glasgow / Scotland
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