Eighth Air Force
If, in an odd angle of the hutment, A puppy laps the water from a can Of flowers, and the drunk sergeant shaving Whistles O Paradiso!--shall I say that man Is not as men have said: a wolf to man? The other murderers troop in yawning; Three of them play Pitch, one sleeps, and one Lies counting missions, lies there sweating Till even his heart beats: One; One; One. O murderers! . . . Still, this is how it's done: This is a war . . . But since these play, before they die, Like puppies with their puppy; since, a man, I did as these have done, but did not die-- I will content the people as I can And give up these to them: Behold the man! I have suffered, in a dream, because of him, Many things; for this last saviour, man, I have lied as I lie now. But what is lying? Men wash their hands, in blood, as best they can: I find no fault in this just man.
From The Complete Poems by Randall Jarrell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1969, 1996 by Mrs. Randall Jarrell. Used with permission.
Known for his essays, criticism, and poetry, Randall Jarrell was born in 1914
Date Published: 1969-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/eighth-air-force