POET’s CORNER: Ode to a Broken Soldier

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By Paul Cantrell of Lincolnshire Live Poets’ Society

A soldier solitary and cold astride the agonies of old,

Upon the cenotaph he stood as on a rampart stiff with blood,

Frowns on the poppies at the wall, saluting those who chose to fall for freedom...

Douglas H McCreevey, John Plant, Eric Swale, Harry James,

Phillip Rollins, Archie Pearson...

Men of mourning names that liveth...

Jolly John C Kinsey-Smith, old Henry Arnott, Arthur Dodd

Now crumble under unknown sod.

Oh God, who dies if England lives,

Who stands if freedom falls;

Indictment of all living men shouts out from granite wall.

No voice, the eyeless lad from home

Now doomed to verdigris,

Holds to his hallowed .303;

His lips are set, cheeks rocked in death,

Grave-gaping mouth gasps at the breath-defying air.

His pack and pouches, world-worn boots,

Like mouldy puddings buried with himself;

His helmet tossed back cocksure yet uncertain...

Here is the spectre of a slaughtered race;

His face is spent, so carelessly he poses,

Inevitably food for roses.