Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - In the Morning

"In the Morning" by Patrick MacGill 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.

In the Morning
by Patrick MacGill
(Loos, 1915)

The firefly haunts were lighted yet,
As we scaled the top of the parapet;
But the east grew pale to another fire,
As our bayonets gleamed by the foeman's wire;
And the sky was tinged with gold and grey,
And under our feet the dead men lay,
Stiff by the loop-holed barricade;
Food of the bomb and the hand-grenade;
Still the slushy pool and mud -
Ah, the path we came was a path of blood,
When we went to Loos in the morning.

A little grey church at the foot of a hill,
With powdered glass on the window-sill -
The shell-scarred stone and the broken tile,
Littered the chancel, nave and aisle -
Broken the altar and smashed the pyx,
And the rubble covered the crucifix;
This we saw when the charge was done,
And the gas-clouds paled in the rising sun,
As we entered Loos in the morning.

The dead men lay on the shell-scarred plain,
Where Death and the Autumn held their reign -
Like banded ghosts in the heavens grey
The smoke of the powder paled away;
Where riven and rent the spinney trees
Shivered and shook in the sullen breeze,
And there, where the trench through the graveyard wound
The dead men's bones stuck over the ground
By the road to Loos in the morning.

The turret towers that stood in the air,
Sheltered a foeman sniper there -
They found, who fell to the sniper's aim,
A field of death on the field of fame;
And stiff in khaki the boys were laid
To the sniper's toll at the barricade,
But the quick went clattering through the town,
Shot at the sniper and brought him down,
As we entered Loos in the morning.

The dead men lay on the cellar stair,
Toll of the bomb that found them there.
In the street men fell as a bullock drops,
Sniped from the fringe of the Hulluch copse.
And the choking fumes of the deadly shell
Curtained the place where our comrades fell.
This we saw when the charge was done
And the east blushed red to the rising sun
In the town of Loos in the morning.

A "red cap" was a British military policeman.

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