Once upon a time I saw a poster
Of a general pointing straight at me
And the words below shouted out
That a soldier I should be.

Yes a soldier now that was a thought
I’d never had before
I didn’t fight, I’d never fought
And I’d never been to war.

But myself, and millions of others
Decided to heed the call
And despite the tears of our mothers
We trooped off all proud and tall

Together as mates from our towns
All over these sceptered isles
We left young and happy, but soon frowns
Replaced our naïve smiles.

In the trenches, the filth, the blood,
The stench of death all around
Half of my mates already gone for good
disappeared into the ground.

This was not how we expected it to be
When we all joined up to fight the Hun
We thought we would all soon see
Home again after having a bit of fun.

But fun, we soon learned has no place
On these killing fields of France,
The games played here all have their base
In death’s macabre dance.

And in the morning at the rising sun
Once more we go over the top
To face bullets from the machine gun
Which are relentless and never stop.

The bullets that cut down men
Like the scythes that cut the corn
But they keep sending us again and again
I now wish I’d never been born.

I wish I’d never been born to see
The terrible things I’ve seen and done
I wish I’d never been born to be
Sent here to have some fun.

“You’ll all be home for Christmas,”
The recruiting sergeant said.
And two years later here we are
With most of us already dead.

Victims of the bullet, the gas,
The bayonet, shell, and bomb
And at dawn we once again will mass,
To attack the enemy on the Somme.

 

About the Poet Tom Higgins

“I began to write poetry at the age of fifty-five having never written anything other than business reports since leaving school. I live in North West England and I am married with two daughters, and I have now enjoyed sixty-two years of breathing this fresh Cumbrian air.” – Tom

Lara Wilson

Lara Wilson

Editor at NY Literary Magazine
Lara holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature. She's a native New Yorker, an after-school English tutor, and a bookworm.
Lara loves photography and horseback riding.
Lara Wilson

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