Fifes and Drums/A French Captain

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Three wounds. . . he was so weak . . . just to let go
The grip of will on torn and weary flesh—
For then would come a silence . . . and long sleep . . .
And when he waked—if waking was for him—
Then he could fight again . . . but now—O God!
Only to slip to earth a little while
And lose the shattering tumult of the guns!
But something in his heart would not let go,
Something that thudded in his ringing ears
"For France! For France! For France!" He struggled on
Bleeding, unconquered—and unconquerable,
For when the bullet struck him in the breast
He shouted to his men as he went down,
"Never fall back! It is my last command!"

That was one soldier's death. You who can sneer
(God pardon you!) at him and at his like,
Walking so proudly in your nobler ways—
Are you as faithful to humanity
As he to France? Do the stern tests of peace
Awake the God in you, as war in him?
If it were so—there were an end of war.

Amelia Josephine Burr.