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 And while I wondered on their being withdrawn, Gagged by the smothering wing which none unbinds, I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.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
Smile, Smile, Smile
Head to limp head, the sunk-eyed wounded scanned Yesterday’s Mail; the casualties (typed small) And (large) Vast Booty from our Latest Haul. Also, they read of Cheap Homes, not yet planned; For, said the paper, “When this war is done The men’s first instinct will be making homes. Meanwhile their foremost need is aerodromes, It being certain war has just begun. Peace would do wrong to our undying dead,— The sons we offered might regret they died If we got nothing lasting in their stead. We must be solidly indemnified. Though all the worthy Victory which all bought, We rulers sitting in this ancient spot Would wrong our very selves if we forgot The greatest glory will be theirs who fought, Who kept this nation in integrity. Nation?—The half-limbed readers did not chafe But smiled at one another curiously Like secret men who know their secret safe. This is the thing they know and never speak, That England one by one had fled to France (Not many elsewhere not save under France). Pictures of these broad smiles appear each week, And people in whose voice real feeling rings Say: How they smile! They’re happy now, poor things.