Dim, gradual thinning of the shapeless gloom Shudders to drizzling daybreak that reveals Disconsolate men who stamp their sodden boots And turn dulled, sunken faces to the sky Haggard and hopeless. They, who have beaten down The stale despair of night, must now renew Their desolation in the truce of dawn, Murdering the livid hours that grope for peace.
Yet these, who cling to life with stubborn hands, Can grin through storms of death and find a gap In the clawed, cruel tangles of his defence. They march from safety, and the bird-sung joy Of grass-green thickets, to the land where all Is ruin, and nothing blossoms but the sky That hastens over them where they endure Sad, smoking, flat horizons, reeking woods, And foundered trench-lines volleying doom for doom.
O my brave brown companions, when your souls Flock silently away, and the eyeless dead Shame the wild beast of battle on the ridge, Death will stand grieving in that field of war Since your unvanquished hardihood is spent. And through some mooned Valhalla there will pass Battalions and battalions, scarred from hell; The unreturning army that was youth; The legions who have suffered and are dust.