Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - Between the Trenches

"Between the Trenches" by Willoughby Weaving First published in London in November 1917 and reprinted in February 1918 The Muse in Arms comprised, in the words of editor E. B. Osborne:

"A collection of war poems, for the most part written in the field of action, by seamen, soldiers, and flying men who are serving, or have served, in the Great War".

Below is one of fifteen poems featured within the Battle Pieces section of the collection.

You can access other poems within the section via the sidebar to the right.

Between the Trenches
by Willoughby Weaving

How strangely did you break upon
That sudden land beyond life's veil?
A moment did your spirit fail,
As mine when first I knew you gone
The last dark journey, saw your clay
So vacant, loveless, borne away,
And the features, that I loved to scan,
The same but of another man
Unknown - a bright dream all undone.

What stranger did the bearers lift
In their soiled stretcher lightly laid
Where I had seen you fall adrift
From life - had time to be afraid?
- That, all of you that had breathed and moved
That, none of you that lived and loved,
A hush that so I seemed to hate
For claiming still its lost inmate,
A false pretence, a solid shade.

Shadow more solid, but less real
Than love and laughter whence it fell
Across my path with mute appeal
And served your spirit's purpose well -
So well that even I could see
It indistinguishably thee,
Till you had left it like a sheath
With laughter in the hands of death,
And left me gay, not miserable.

Ah, love had never more to lose:
If certain love had less to tell
Then might I in despair's excuse
Bid you a hopeless, vain farewell,
And by the stranger's grave have wept
A solemn while, and sadly kept
In mind his features filled not through
With breathing life, love living, you
Who smiled upon his burial.

Duck-Boards comprised slatted wooden planking used for flooring trenches or muddy ground.

- Did you know?