Verse > Siegfried Sassoon > Counter-Attack and Other Poems

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).  Counter-Attack and Other Poems.  1918.

22. Trench Duty

SHAKEN from sleep, and numbed and scarce awake, 
Out in the trench with three hours’ watch to take, 
I blunder through the splashing mirk; and then 
Hear the gruff muttering voices of the men 
Crouching in cabins candle-chinked with light.         5
Hark! There’s the big bombardment on our right 
Rumbling and bumping; and the dark’s a glare 
Of flickering horror in the sectors where 
We raid the Boche; men waiting, stiff and chilled, 
Or crawling on their bellies through the wire.  10
‘What? Stretcher-bearers wanted? Some one killed?’ 
Five minutes ago I heard a sniper fire: 
Why did he do it? ... Starlight overhead— 
Blank stars. I’m wide-awake; and some chap’s dead. 



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