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Wilfred Owen
- Asleep
- At a Calvary near the
  Ancre

- Conscious
- Disabled
- Greater Love
- The Next War
- 1914
- The Parable of the Old
  Man and the Young

- The Sentry
- Smile, Smile, Smile
- Spring Offensive

 

The Sentry

We'd found an old Boche dug-out, and he knew,
And gave us hell, for shell on frantic shell
Hammered on top, but never quite burst through.
Rain, guttering down in waterfalls of slime,
Kept slush waist-high and rising hour by hour,
And choked the steps too thick with clay to climb.
What murk of air remained stank old, and sour
With fumes of whizz-bangs, and the smell of men
Who'd live there years, and left their curse in the den,
If not their corpses...
                              There we herded from the blast
Of whizz-bangs, but one found our door at last,--
Buffeting eyes and breath, snuffing the candles,
And thud! flump! thud! down the steep steps came
   thumping
And sploshing in the flood, deluging muck--
The sentry's body; then, his rifle, handles
Of old Boche bombs, and mud in ruck on ruck.
We dredged him up, for killed, until he whined
'O sir, my eyes--I'm blind--I'm blind, I'm blind!'
Coaxing, I held a flame against his lids
And said if he could see the least blurred light
He was not blind; in time he'd get all right.
'I can't,' he sobbed. Eyeballs, huge-bulged like squids',
Watch my dreams still; but I forgot him there
In posting Next for duty, and sending a scout
To beg a stretcher somewhere, and flound'ring about
To other posts under the shrieking air.

*      *      *

Those other wretches, how they bled and spewed,
And one who would have drowned himself for good,--
I try not to remember these things now.
Let dread hark back for one word only: how
Half listening to that sentry's moans and jumps,
And the wild chattering of his broken teeth,
Renewed most horribly whenever crumps
Pummelled the roof and slogged the air beneath--
Through the dense din, I say, we heard him shout
'I see your lights!' But ours had long died out.

- Wilfred Owen


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