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effortless
9th Nov 2014, 12:37
He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.
About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light-blue trees
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands,
All of them touch him like some **** disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now he is old; his back will never brace;
He's lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race,
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.
One time he liked a bloodsmear down his leg,
After the matches carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
He thought he'd better join. He wonders why . . .
Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts.

That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts,
He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.
Germans he scarcely thought of; and no fears
Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.
Now, he will spend a few sick years in Institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
To-night he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?


Don't know who wrote it.

goudie
9th Nov 2014, 13:48
Very moving and sad. Reminds me of a book I read many moons ago, about WW1 called
'Johnny Got His Gun', Johnny was also terribly injured.

messybeast
9th Nov 2014, 17:46
Effortless,

A very moving poem. Thank you for posting it.

It is called "Disabled" and was written by Wilfred Owen. I remember studying it, along with other works by Owen, Sassoon and Graves at school 40+ years ago.

It didn't have much impact on me then, but the events of the past couple of decades, and the number of disabled service personnel we see again today, brings the realities of war much closer than it did then.

Thank you to all who served.

C130 Techie
9th Nov 2014, 19:17
Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.

That is the line that strikes me. So many very young men, children some of them, managed to get into the army. Many sadly never returned home.