Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SOLDIERS, by LOUIS UNTERMEYER



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SOLDIERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Gay flags flying down the street
Last Line: And the screaming fife exults!
Alternate Author Name(s): Lewis, Michael
Subject(s): Protest, Social; Soldiers; War


GAY flags flying down the street;
Comes the drum's insistent beat
Like a fierce, gigantic pulse,
And the screaming fife exults.

Soldier, soldier, spic and span,
Aren't you the lucky man;
Splendid in your gold and blue—
How the small boy envies you!

Oh, there's glory for you here—
Girls to smile and men to cheer;
Bands behind and bands before
Thrilling with the lust of War.

Soldier, soldier, proud as though
Marching to a sanguine foe,
Bravely would you face the brink
Fired with music, and with drink...

Stalwart warrior pass, and be
Glad you are not such as we—
We, who, without flags or drums,
March to battle in the slums.

Regiments of workers—we
Are a foolish soldiery,
Combating, till we convert,
Ignorance, disease and dirt...

Soldier, soldier, look—and then
Laugh at us poor fighting-men,
Struggling on, though every street
Is the scene of our defeat.

Laugh at us, who, day by day
Come back beaten from the fray;
We, who find our work undone—
We, whose wars are never won.

Gay flags flying down the street;
Comes the drum's insistent beat
Like a fierce, gigantic pulse—
And the screaming fife exults!





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