All night they marched, the infantrymen under pack,
But the hands gripping the rifles were naked bone
And the hollow pits of the eyes stared, vacant and black,
When the moonlight shone.
The gas mask lay like a blot on the empty chest,
The slanting helmets were spattered with rust and mold,
But they burrowed the hill for the machine-gun nest
As they had of old.
And the guns rolled, and the tanks, but there was no sound,
Never the gasp or rustle of living men
Where the skeletons strung their wire on disputed ground …
I knew them, then.
‘It’s eighteen years,’ I cried. ‘You must come no more.’
‘We know your names. We know that you are the dead.
Must you march forever from France and the last, blind war?’
‘Fool! From the next!’
(Stephen Vincent Benet)
More Poetry from Stephen Vincent Benet:Stephen Vincent Benet Poems based on Topics: War & Peace, Cry, Fool
- Army Of Northern Virginia (Stephen Vincent Benet Poems)
- Difference (Stephen Vincent Benet Poems)
- Campus Sonnets: Return - 1917 (Stephen Vincent Benet Poems)
- Campus Sonnets: Talk (Stephen Vincent Benet Poems)
- Campus Sonnets: Before An Examination (Stephen Vincent Benet Poems)
- Campus Sonnets: May Morning (Stephen Vincent Benet Poems)
Readers Who Like This Poem Also Like:Based on Topics: War & Peace Poems, Cry Poems, Fool Poems
Based on Keywords: burrowed, machine-gun, infantrymen
- Alma; or, The Progress of the Mind. In Three Cantos. - Canto I. (Matthew Prior Poems)
- The Merchant of Venice,: A Legend of Italy (Richard Harris Barham Poems)
- Convict Once - Part Second. (James Brunton Stephens Poems)
- Christ's Triumph after Death : Canto IV. Christ's Victory and Triumph (Giles Fletcher Jr Poems)
- Astraea: The Balance Of Illusions (Oliver Wendell Holmes Poems)