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Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: The Bayonet


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: Selections on war


Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
The Bayonet

This bloody steel
Has killed a man.
I heard him squeal
As on I ran.

He watched me come
With wagging head.
I pressed it home
And he was dead.

Though clean and clear
I’ve wiped the steel,
I still can hear
That dying squeal.


Air Raid

Night shatters in mid-heaven: the bark of guns,
The roar of planes, the crash of bombs, and all
The unshackled sky pandemonium stuns
The senses to indifference, when a fall
Of masonry near by startles awake,
Tingling wide-eyed, prick-eared, with bristling hair,
Each sense within the body crouched aware
Like some sore-hunted creature in the brake.

Yet side by side we lie in the little room,
Just touching hands, with eyes and ears that strain
Keenly, yet dream-bewildered, through tense gloom,
Listening in helpless stupor of insane
Drugged nightmare panic fantastically wild,
To the quiet breathing of our sleeping child.


Before Action

I sit beside the brazier’s glow,
And, drowsing in the heat,
A dream of daffodils that blow
And lambs that frisk and bleat –

Black lambs that frolic in the snow
Among the daffodils,
In a far orchard that I know
Beneath the Malvern hills.

Next year the daffodils will blow,
And lambs will frisk and bleat;
But I’ll not feel the the brazier’s glow,
Nor any cold or heat.

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