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Apologia pro Poemate Meo

Apologia pro1 Poemate Meo

I, too, saw God through mud —— The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches2 smiled. War brought more glory to their eyes than blood, And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there —— Where death becomes absurd and life absurder. For power was on us as we slashed3 bones bare Not to feel sickness or remorse4 of murder.

I, too, have dropped off fear —— Behind the barrage5, dead as my platoon, And sailed my spirit surging, light and clear Past the entanglement6 where hopes lay strewn;

And witnessed exultation7 —— Faces that used to curse me, scowl8 for scowl, Shine and lift up with passion of oblation9, Seraphic for an hour; though they were foul10.

I have made fellowships ——Untold of happy lovers in old song. For love is not the binding11 of fair lips With the soft silk of eyes that look and long,
By Joy, whose ribbon slips, —— But wound with war's hard wire whose stakes are strong; Bound with the bandage of the arm that drips; Knit in the welding of the rifle-thong.

I have perceived much beauty In the hoarse12 oaths that kept our courage straight; Heard music in the silentness of duty; Found peace where shell-storms spouted13 reddest spate14.

Nevertheless, except you share With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell, Whose world is but the trembling of a flare15, And heaven but as the highway for a shell,

You shall not hear their mirth: You shall not come to think them well content By any jest of mine. These men are worth Your tears: You are not worth their merriment

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