What the Orderly Dog Saw

                       A Winter Landscape


The seven white peacocks against the castle wall
In the high trees and the dusk are like tapestry,
The sky being orange, the high wall a purple barrier
The canal, dead silver in the dusk
   And you are far away.
Yet I can see infinite miles of mountains.
Little lights shinig in rose in the dark of them;
Infinite miles of marshes.
Thin wisps of must, shimmering like blue webs
Over the dusk of them, great curves and horns of seas
And dusk and dusk and the little village
   And you, sitting in the firelight.


Around me are the two hundred and forty men of B Company
Going about their avocations,
Resting between their practice of the art
Of killing men,
As I too rest between y practice
If the Art of killing men.
Their pipes glow above the mud and their mud colour, moving like fireflies beneath the trees,
I too being mud-coloured
Beneath the trees and the peacocks.
When they come up to me in the duck
They start, stiffen and salute, almost invisibly.
And the forty-two prisoners from the Battalion guardroom
Crouch over the tea cans in the shadow of the wall.
And the breat hunks glimmer, beneath the peacocks,
   And you are far away.


Presently I shall go in,
I shall write down the names of the forty-two
Prisoners in the Battalion guardroom
On fair white foolscap.
their names, rank, and regimental numbers,
Corps, Companies, Punishments and Offences,
                 Remarks, and by whom Confined.
                 Yet in spite of all I shall see only
              The infinite miles of dark marshland,
              Great curves and horns of sea
              The little village.
              And you,
              Sitting in the firelight.

This poem is in the public domain.