To a Private Soldier

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A Highland Regiment and Other Poems by Ewart Alan Mackintosh
To a Private Soldier

THE air is still, the light winds blow
Too quietly to wake you now.
Dreamer, you dream too well to know
Whose hand set death upon your brow.
The shrinking flesh the bullets tore
Will never pulse with fear again ;
Sleep on, remembering no more
Your sudden agony of pain.

Oh, poor brave smiling face made naught.
Turned back to dust from whence you came,
You have forgot the men you fought.
The wounds that burnt you like a flame ;
With stiff hand crumbling a clod,
And blind eyes staring at the sky,
The awful evidence of God
Against the men who made you die.

You have forgotten, sleeping well,
But what of them ? shall they forget
Your body broken with the shell,
Your brow whereon their seal is set ?
Does earth for them hold any place
Where they shall never see the flies
Clustered about your empty face
And on your blind, accusing eyes ?

Good-night, good sleep to you. But they
Will never know good-night again,
Whose eyes are seeing night and day,
The humble men who died in vain.
Their ears are filled with bitter cries,
Their nostrils with the powder smell.
And shall see your mournful eyes
Across the reeking fires of hell.