Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - On Account Of Ill Health

"On Account Of Ill Health" by Edward Shanks 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 seventeen poems featured within the Moods and Memories section of the collection.

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

On Account of Ill Health
by Edward Shanks

You go, brave friends, and I am cast to stay behind,
To read with frowning eyes and discontented mind
The shining history that you are gone to make,
To sleep with working brain, to dream and to awake
Into another day of most ignoble peace,
To drowse, to read, to smoke, to pray that war may cease.
The spring is coming on, and with the spring you go
In countries where strange scents on the April breezes blow;
You'll see the primroses marched down into the mud,
You'll see the hawthorn-tree wear crimson flowers of blood,
And I shall walk about, as I did walk of old,
Where the laburnum trails its chains of useless gold,
I'll break a branch of may, I'll pick a violet
And see the new-born flowers that soldiers must forget,
I'll love, I'11 laugh, I'll dream and write undying songs,
But with your regiment my marching soul belongs.
Men that have marched with me and men that I have led
Shall know and feel the things that I have only read,
Shall know what thing it is to sleep beneath the skies
And to expect their death what time the sun shall rise.
Men that have marched with me shall march to peace again,
Bringing for plunder home glad memories of pain,
Of toils endured and done, of terrors quite brought under,
And all the world shall be their plaything and their wonder.
Then in that new-born world, unfriendly and estranged,
I shall be quite alone, I shall be left unchanged.

A "salient" is a battle line that projects into territory nominally held by enemy forces.

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