Tuesday, August 31, 2010

“Trench Idyll”
Richard Aldington
1892-1962 English

We sat together in the trench,
He on a lump of frozen earth
Blown in the night before,
I on an unexploded shell;
And smoked and talked, like exiles,
Of how pleasant London was,
Its women, restaurants, night clubs, theatres,
How at that very hour
The taxi cabs were taking folk to dine ...
Then we sat silent for a while
As a machine gun swept the parapet.

He said:
"I've been here on and off two years
And only seen one man killed."

"That's odd."

"The bullet hit him in the throat;
He fell in a heap on the fire-step,
And called out 'My God! dead!'"

"Good Lord, how terrible!"

"Well, as to that, the nastiest job I've had
Was last year on this very front
Taking the discs at night from men
Who'd hung for six months on the wire
Just over there.
The worst of all was
They fell to pieces at a touch,
Thank God we couldn't see their faces;
They had gas helmets on ..."

I shivered:
"It's rather cold here, sir; suppose we move?"

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