Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN INFANTRYMAN, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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AN INFANTRYMAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Painfully writhed the few last weeds upon those houseless / uplands
Last Line: Sunny as a may-day dance, along that spectral avenue.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): Soldiers; World War I; First World War

PAINFULLY writhed the few last weeds upon those houseless uplands,
Cleft pods had dropt their blackened seeds into the trampled clay,
Wind and rain were running loose, and icy flew the whiplash;
Masked guns like autumn thunder drummed the outcast year away.

Hidden a hundred yards ahead with winter's blinding passion,
The mule-beat track appeared half dead, even war's hot blood congealed;
The half-dug trenches brimmed like troughs, the camps lay slushed and empty,
Unless those bitter whistlings proved Death's army in the field.

Over the captured ridge above the hurt battalion waited,
And hardly had sense left to prove if ghost or living passed
From hole to hole with sunken eyes and slow ironic orders,
While fiery fountains burst and clanged -- and there your lot was cast.

Yet I saw your health and youth go brightening to the vortex,
The ghosts on guard, the storm uncouth were then no match for you;
You smiled, you sang, your courage rang, and to this day I hear it,
Sunny as a May-day dance, along that spectral avenue.

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