Trench Poets1I knew a man, he was my
but he grew
blacker1 every day,
and would not brush the flies away,
blanch1 however fierce the hum
of passing shells; I used to read,
rouse1 him, random things from
Get with child a mandrake-root3."
But you can tell he was far gone,
for he lay gaping,
and stiff, and senseless as a
even when that old poet cried
" I long to talk with some old lover's ghost."
I tried the
Elegies1 one day,
but he, because he heard me say:
" What needst thou have more covering than a man?"1
grinned nastily, and so I knew the
worms had got his brains at last.
There was one thing that I might do
to starve the worms; I racked my head
healthy things and quoted Maud2.
His grin got worse and I could see
he sneered at passion's purity3.
He stank so badly, though we were great chums
I had to leave him; then rats ate his thumbs.