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The Wars And The Unknown Soldier - Poem by Conrad Potter Aiken

I
Dry leaves, soldier, dry leaves, dead leaves;
voices of leaves on the wind that bears them to
destruction,
impassioned prayer, impassioned hymn of delight
of the gladly doomed to die. Stridor of beasts,
stridor of men, praises of lust and battle,
numberless as waves, the waves singing
to the wind that bears them down.

Under Osiris,
him of the Egyptian priests, Osynmandyas the King,
easward into Asia we passed, swarmed over Bactria,
three thousand years before Christ.

The history of war
is the history of mankind.
So many dead:
look at them there in the dark, look at them going,
the longest parade of all, the parade of the dead:
between then and now, seven thousand million dead:
dead on the filed of battle.

The people which is not ready
to guard its gods, and its household gods, with the
sword,
who knows but it will find itself with nothing
save honour to defend - ?

Consider, soldier
whatever name you go by, doughboy, dogface,
marine or tommy. God's mercenary – consider our lot
in the days if the single combat. You have been seen on the
seashore.
In the offshore wind blown backward, a wavecrest
windwhipped and quivering, borne helpless and
briefly
to fall underfoot of an oncoming seawall, foam-
smothered,
once more to recede, wind-thwarted again; thus
deathward
the battle lines whelmed and divided. The darkling
battalions
locked arms in chaos, the bravest, the heroes,
kept in the forefront' and this line once broken,
our army was done for.

II
In the new city of marble and bright stone,
the city named for a captain; in the capital:
under the solemn echoing dome, in the still tomb,
lies an unknown soldier.*

In the brown city,
old and shabby, by the muddy Thames, in the gaunt
avenue
where Romans blessed with Latin the oyster and the
primrose,
the stone shaft speaks of another. Those who pass
bare their heads in the rain, pausing to listen+

Across grey water, red poppies on cliffs and chalk.
Hidden under the arch, in the city of light,
the city beloved of Abelard rests a third,
nameless as those, but the fluttering flame
substituting for a name.

Three unknown soldiers:
three, let us say, out of many. On the proud arch
names shine like stars, the names of battles and
victories;
but never the name of the man, you, the unknown.
Down there runs the river, under dark walls of rock,
parapets of rock, stone steps that green to the water.

There they fished up in the twilight another unknown,
the one they call
L'Inconnue de la Seine
: drowned
hands,
drowned hair, drowned eyes, masked like marble she
listens
to the drip-drop secret of silence; and the pale eyelids
enclose and disclose what they know, the illusion
found like fire under Lethe. Devotion here sainted
the love here deathless. The strong purpose turns
from the daggered lamplight, from the little light to
the lesser,
from stone to stone stepping, from the nex-to-the-lasy
heartbeat and footstep even to the sacred, to the last.

Love: devotion: sacrifice: death: can we call her
unknown
who has not unknown to herself more? Whose love
lives still
as if death itself were alive and divine?

And you, the soldier
you who are dead: is it not so with you?
Love: devotion: sacrifice: death: can we call you
unknown,
you who knew what you did? The soldier is crystal:
crystal of man: clear heart, clear duty, clear purpose.
No soldier can be unknown. Only he is unknown
who is unknown to himself.


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Poems About Soldier

  1. 1. A Soldier , Robert Frost
  2. 2. 1914 V: The Soldier , Rupert Brooke
  3. 3. The Soldier , Robert Frost
  4. 4. A Mystic As Soldier , Siegfried Sassoon
  5. 5. Adieu To A Soldier , Walt Whitman
  6. 6. The Young British Soldier , Rudyard Kipling
  7. 7. The Soldier Fights , katie
  8. 8. Prayer Of A Soldier In France , Joyce Kilmer
  9. 9. The Fallen Soldier , Branden Hidalgo
  10. 10. The Young Soldier , Wilfred Owen
  11. 11. Soldier An' Sailor Too , Rudyard Kipling
  12. 12. Unknown Soldier , Alf Hutchison
  13. 13. Young Soldier , Only Yours
  14. 14. The Soldier (Memorial Day Memorial Day M.. , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  15. 15. Soldier, Soldier , Rudyard Kipling
  16. 16. God And The Soldier , Anonymous
  17. 17. Soldier, Maiden, And Flower , Eugene Field
  18. 18. God And The Soldier , Anonymous Americas
  19. 19. The Dumb Soldier , Robert Louis Stevenson
  20. 20. The Soldier , Gerard Manley Hopkins
  21. 21. A Tale From A Union Soldier , Jeff Fleischer
  22. 22. The Death Of A Soldier , Wallace Stevens
  23. 23. The Soldier , katie
  24. 24. ! Soldier Vs Terrorists! , Rema Prasanaa
  25. 25. Soldier, Rest! Thy Warfare O'Er, , Sir Walter Scott
  26. 26. Soldier , Alf Hutchison
  27. 27. Soldier Freddy , Spike Milligan
  28. 28. Just A Soldier , Eleanor ...
  29. 29. Hello, Soldier! , Edward George Dyson
  30. 30. The Soldier , John Clare
  31. 31. A Soldier , Summer Sandercox
  32. 32. Soldier: Twentieth Century , Isaac Rosenberg
  33. 33. The Broken Soldier , Katharine Tynan
  34. 34. Any Soldier To His Son , Anonymous English
  35. 35. The Wars And The Unknown Soldier , Conrad Potter Aiken
  36. 36. Taps For My Soldier , C.J. Heck
  37. 37. Dirge For A Soldier , Paul Laurence Dunbar
  38. 38. A Soldier , Denise Girod
  39. 39. A Soldier Home From A War , David Harris
  40. 40. Soldier, Wake , Sir Walter Scott
  41. 41. ! Soldier ! , GAYATRI NAMBIAR
  42. 42. A Soldier To America. , JOSE MURGUIA
  43. 43. The Return Of The Soldier , Franklin Pierce Adams
  44. 44. Welcome Home Soldier , David Barlow
  45. 45. Soldier Going To The War , Richard Le Gallienne
  46. 46. Oh! He's Nothing But A Soldier , Anonymous Americas
  47. 47. Teacher, Soldier With A Pen , Dr. Yogesh Sharma
  48. 48. Soldier Boy , Robert William Service
  49. 49. A Nato Soldier , Sadiqullah Khan
  50. 50. On A Soldier Fallen In The Philippines , William Vaughn Moody
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