More songs by the fighting men. Soldiers poets: second series/R. C. G. Dartford
R. C. G. DARTFORD
Captain, attached to Portuguese Expeditionary Force, France
A Soldier's Question: Spring, 1917
CURSE I the Spring that God has sent
Raising such discord in my soul ? . . .
'Twas fitter when the winter's blast
Could lash my spirit to the mast
And send me drugged by brute control
To battle with a grim content!
Then Death took hold on the neck of Life
And Earth's rough scalp lay touzled and scarred,
And the winter-scream swept round me fierce—
The softer visions to disperse—
While stripped by storms I stood on guard
Cleaving the wind with keener knife.
But now with Spring to dream or grieve
I am tempted, and the blushful day
Reveals her old-time beauty, far
From mating with the ghost of War.
Am I then laggard if I pray
From this soul's scaffold quick reprieve?
BUT for the watches dark
Would you welcome the morrow?
Can any joy reach your heart
But mounts upon sorrow?
Surely pains in which you take part
Pleasures will borrow?
WHEN you've been dead beat, and had to go on
While others died; when your turn to be gone
Is overdue; when you're pushed ahead
("Go on till you die" is all they said),
Then die—and you're glad to be dead!