Now light the candles; one; two; thereâ€™s a moth; What silly beggars they are to blunder in And scorch their wings with glory, liquid flameâ€” No, no, not that,â€”itâ€™s bad to think of war, When thoughts youâ€™ve gagged all day come back to scare you; And itâ€™s been proved that soldiers donâ€™t go mad Unless they lose control of ugly thoughts That drive them out to jabber among the trees.
Now light your pipe; look, what a steady hand. Draw a deep breath; stop thinking; count fifteen, And youâ€™re as right as rain... Why wonâ€™t it rain?... I wish thereâ€™d be a thunder-storm to-night, With bucketsful of water to sluice the dark, And make the roses hang their dripping heads. Books; what a jolly company they are, Standing so quiet and patient on their shelves, Dressed in dim brown, and black, and white, and green, And every kind of colour. Which will you read? Come on; O do read something; theyâ€™re so wise. I tell you all the wisdom of the world Is waiting for you on those shelves; and yet You sit and gnaw your nails, and let your pipe out, And listen to the silence: on the ceiling Thereâ€™s one big, dizzy moth that bumps and flutters; And in the breathless air outside the house The garden waits for something that delays. There must be crowds of ghosts among the trees,â€” Not people killed in battle,â€”theyâ€™re in France,â€” But horrible shapes in shroudsâ€”old men who died Slow, natural deaths,â€”old men with ugly souls, Who wore their bodies out with nasty sins.
. . . . Youâ€™re quiet and peaceful, summering safe at home; Youâ€™d never think there was a bloody war on!... O yes, you would ... why, you can hear the guns. Hark! Thud, thud, thud,â€”quite soft ... they never ceaseâ€” Those whispering gunsâ€”O Christ, I want to go out And screech at them to stopâ€”Iâ€™m going crazy; Iâ€™m going stark, staring mad because of the guns.