The Deserter (Letts)

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For works with similar titles, see The Deserter.

<poem> There was a man, — don't mind his name, Whom fear has dogged by night and day. He could not face the German guns And so he turned and ran away. Just that-he turned and ran away, But who can judge him, you or I? God makes a man of flesh and blood Who yearns to live and not to die. And this man when he feared to die. Was scared as any frightened child, His knees were shaking under him, His breath came fast, his eyes were wild. I've seen a hare with eyes as wild, With throbbing heart and sobbing breath. But oh! it shames one's soul to see A man in abject fear of death. But fear had gripped him, so had death; His number had gone up that day, They might not heed his frightened eyes, They shot him when the dawn was grey Blindfolded, when the dawn was grey, He stood there in a place apart, The shots rang out and down he fell, An English bullet in his heart. An English bullet in his heart! But here's the irony of life,- His mother thinks he fought and fell A hero, foremost in the strife. So she goes proudly; to the strife Her best, her hero son she gave. O well for her she does not know He lies in a deserter's grave.