An Allegory

A poem by Barcroft Henry Boake

The fight was over, and the battle won
A soldier, who beneath his chieftain’s eye
Had done a might deed and done it well,
And done it as the world will have it done,
A stab, a curse, some quick play of the butt,
Two skulls cracked crosswise, but the colours saved,
Proud of his wounds, proud of the promised cross,
Turned to his rear-rank man, who on his gun
Leant heavily apart. ‘Ho, friend!’ he called,
‘You did not fight then: were you left behind?
I saw you not.’ The other turned and showed
A gapping, red-lipped wound upon his breast.
‘Ah,’ said he sadly, ‘I was in the smoke!’
Threw up his arms, shivered, and fell and died.

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