The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb, for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Wilfred Owen

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind,
Drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots of tired,
Outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!-An ecstacy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie; Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

Translated means:... It is fit and proper to die for ones country

Wilfred Owen

Beaucourt Revisited

I wandered up to Beaucourt; I took the river track
And saw the lines we lived in before the Boche went back;

But Peace was now in Pottage, the front was far ahead,
The front had journeyed Eastward, and only left the dead.

And I thought, how long we lay there, and watched across the wire,
While guns roared round the valley,and set the skys afire!
But now there are homes in HAMEL and tents in the Vale of Hell,
And a camp at suicide corner, where half a regiment fell.

The new troops follow after, and tread the land we won,
To them 'tis so much hill-side re-wrested from the Hun
We only walk with reverence this sullen mile of mud
The shell-holes hold our history, and half of them our blood.

Here, at the head of Peche Street,'twas death to show your face,
To me it seemed like magic to linger in the place;
For me how many spirits hung around the Kentish Caves,
But the new men see no spirits-they only see the graves.

I found the half-dug ditches we fashioned for the fight,
We lost a score of men there-young James was killed that night,
I saw the star shells staring, I heard the bullets hail,
But the new troops pass unheeding-they never heard the tale.

I crossed the blood red ribbon,that once was no-man's land,
I saw a misty daybreak and a creeping minute-hand;
And here the lads went over, and there was Harmsworth shot,
And here was William lying-but the new men know them not.

And I said, "There is still the river, and still the stiff, stark trees,
To treasure here our story, but there are only these";
But under the white wood crosses the dead men answered low,
" The new men know not BEAUCOURT, but we are here-we know."

Alan Patrick Herbert


Man at Arms

What are you guarding, Man-at-Arms?
Why do you watch and wait?
'I guard the graves, said the Man-at-Arms,
I guard the graves by Flanders farms
Where the dead will rise at my call to arms,
And march to the Menin gate'.

'When do they march then, Man-at-Arms?
Cold is the hour - and late'
'They march tonight' said the Man-at-Arms,
With the moon on the Menin gate.
They march when the midnight bids them go.
With they're rifles slung and their pipes aglow,
Along the roads,the roads they know,
The roads to the Menin gate.

'What are they singing, Man-at-Arms,
As they march to the Menin gate?'
'The Marching songs', said the Man-at-Arms,
That let them laugh at fate.
No more will the night be cold for them,
For the last tattoo has rolled for them,
And their souls will sing as of old for them,
As they march to the Menin gate.