Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled. Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled When far-gone dead return upon the world. There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke. Each one whom Life exiled I named and called. But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled; And never one fared back to me or spoke. Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds, The weak-limned hour when sick men’s sighs are drained. And while I wondered on their being withdrawn, Gagged by the smothering wing which none unbinds, I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.
Wilfred Owen - 1893-1918
Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way To the siding-shed, And lined the train with faces grimly gay. Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray As men’s are, dead. Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp Stood staring hard, Sorry to miss them from the upland camp. Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp Winked to the guard. So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went. They were not ours: We never heard to which front these were sent. Nor there if they yet mock what women meant Who gave them flowers. Shall they return to beatings of great bells In wild trainloads? A few, a few, too few for drums and yells, May creep back, silent, to still village wells Up half-known roads.