Saturday, 22 February 2014
The Young Soldier
(He died aged just 21 as he led his men into battle in Tunisia during Operation Torch in WW2.)
I am young.
With my proud young body
I have run over the smiling threshold of life.
All my bright years
I have clapped hands in the sunlight.
I have smelt shy roses
And the full scents of rain-kissed woods in spring.
I have lain in ecstasy
Under the spell of the cool river
When the sunset carried to me the musics of God.
I have loved beautiful and strong things.
I have stood humbled in the shadows of the Irish hills,
I have bathed my body in the meadows of green Warwickshire.
All my swift time
I have run free,
Like an unbroken horse
Mad with the joy of the wind in my nostrils;
Excited in the new strength
Of the powerful limbs,
And unfenced race.
May I not pay for this?
Have I travelled like a coward?
Have I evaded the cost?
Come! We have lived life to the last stirring drop
Of the strange deep-thrilling wine.
As we have lived
So let us die.
In high proud exultation
Let us repay
Laughing blood with spilt.
Let Youth assure the Youth of later springs
The sunshine and the joy that it has known.
This rich river of life could never fade
Into a dull, sand-soaked stagnancy.
How better end it than to plunge
With unflinched pride in sacrifice
Over the final glorious cataract of Death?