by Ivor Gurney
Through miles of mud we travelled, and by sick valleys-
The Valley of Death at last - most evil alleys,
To Grandcourt trenches reserve - and the hell's name it did
Rain there was - tired and weak I was, glad for an end.
But one spoke to me - one I liked well as friend -
'Let's volunteer for the Front Line - many others won't.
I'll volunteer, it's better being there than here.'
But I had seen too many ditches and stood too long
Feeling my feet freeze, and my shoulders ache with the
Pull of equipment - and too much use of pain and strain.
Besides he was Lance Corporal and might be full Corporal
Before the next straw resting might come again.
Before the next billet should hum with talk and song.
Stars looked as well from second as from first line holes.
There were fatigues for change, and a thought less danger -
But five or six there were followed Army with their souls -
Took five days' dripping rain without let of finish again -
With dysentery and bodies of heroic ghouls.
Till at last their hearts feared nothing of the brazen anger,
(Perhaps of death little) but once more again to drop on straw
And to have heaven of dry feeling after the damps and fouls.
Last updated July 01, 2015