Home > Uncategorized > Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: The Conscript

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: The Conscript

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

British writers on peace and war

Wilfred Wilson Gibson: Selections on war

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Wilfred Wilson Gibson
The Conscript

Indifferent, flippant, earnest, but all bored,
The doctors sit in the glare of electric light
Watching the endless stream of naked white
Bodies of men for whom their hasty award
Means life or death maybe, or the living death
Of mangled limbs, blind eyes, or a darkened brain;
And the chairman, as his monocle falls again,
Pronounces each doom with easy indifferent breath.

Then suddenly I shudder as I see
A young man stand before them wearily,
Cadaverous as one already dead;
But still they stare untroubled as he stands
With arms outstretched and drooping thorn-crowned head,
The nail-marks glowing in his feet and hands.

****

The Fear

I do not fear to die
‘Neath the open sky,
To meet death in the fight
Face to face, upright.
But when at last we creep
Into a hole to sleep,
I tremble, cold with dread,
Lest I wake up dead.

****

In the Ambulance

Two rows of cabbages,
Two of curly-greens
Two rows of early peas,
Two of kidney beans.

That’s what he keeps muttering,
Making such a song,
Keeping other chaps awake
The whole night long.

Both his legs are shot away,
And his head is light,
So he keeps on muttering
All the blessed night:

Two rows of cabbages,
Two of curly-greens
Two rows of early peas,
Two of kidney beans.

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