In Flanders Fields and Other Poems/The Unconquered Dead

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The Unconquered Dead

". . . defeated, with great loss."

Not we the conquered!  Not to us the blame
   Of them that flee, of them that basely yield;
Nor ours the shout of victory, the fame
   Of them that vanquish in a stricken field.

That day of battle in the dusty heat
  We lay and heard the bullets swish and sing
Like scythes amid the over-ripened wheat,
  And we the harvest of their garnering.

Some yielded, No, not we!  Not we, we swear
  By these our wounds; this trench upon the hill
Where all the shell-strewn earth is seamed and bare,
  Was ours to keep; and lo! we have it still.

We might have yielded, even we, but death
  Came for our helper; like a sudden flood
The crashing darkness fell; our painful breath
  We drew with gasps amid the choking blood.

The roar fell faint and farther off, and soon
  Sank to a foolish humming in our ears,
Like crickets in the long, hot afternoon
  Among the wheat fields of the olden years.

Before our eyes a boundless wall of red
  Shot through by sudden streaks of jagged pain!
Then a slow-gathering darkness overhead
  And rest came on us like a quiet rain.

Not we the conquered!  Not to us the shame,
  Who hold our earthen ramparts, nor shall cease
To hold them ever; victors we, who came
  In that fierce moment to our honoured peace.