Verse > Siegfried Sassoon > Counter-Attack and Other Poems

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

7. How to Die

DARK clouds are smouldering into red 
  While down the craters morning burns. 
The dying soldier shifts his head 
  To watch the glory that returns; 
He lifts his fingers toward the skies         5
  Where holy brightness breaks in flame; 
Radiance reflected in his eyes, 
  And on his lips a whispered name. 
You’d think, to hear some people talk, 
  That lads go West with sobs and curses,  10
And sullen faces white as chalk, 
  Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses. 
But they’ve been taught the way to do it 
  Like Christian soldiers; not with haste 
And shuddering groans; but passing through it  15
  With due regard for decent taste. 



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