"A soldier is a Yahoo hired to kill in cold blood as
many of his own species,
who have never offended him, as possible he can."
Soldiers are citizens of death's gray land,
Drawing no dividends from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows,
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.
"There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding
flash of light all around me, and I felt a tremendous shock - no
pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electric terminal;
with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and
shriveled up to nothing."