The Hapless Army

A poem by Edward Dyson

“A soldier braving disease and death on the battlefield has a seven times better chance of life than a new-born baby.” - Secretary of War, U.S.A.


The Hapless Army from the dark
That lies beyond creation,
All blinded by the solar spark,
And leaderless in lands forlorn,
Come stumbling through the mists of morn;
And foes in close formation,
With taloned fingers dripping red,
Bestrew the sodden world with dead.

The Hapless Army bears no sword;
Fell destiny fulfilling,
It marches where the murder horde,
Amid the fair new urge of life,
With poison stream, and shot, and knife,
Make carnival of killing.
No war above black Hell's abyss
Knows evil grim and foul as this.

In pallid hillocks lie the slain
The callous heaven under;
Like twisted hieroglyphs of pain
They fleck earth to oblivion's brink,
As far as human mind may think,
Accusing God with thunder
Of dreadful silence. Nought it serves,
Fate ever calls the doomed reserves!

Still with Death's own monotony
The innocents are falling,
Like dead leaves in a forest dree;
And still the conscript armies come.
No banners theirs, no beat of drum,
No merry bugles calling!
Mad ally in the Slayers' train,
Man slaps and sorrows for the slain!

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