Battalion Relief

A poem by Siegfried Sassoon

"Fall in! Now, get a move on!" (Curse the rain.)
We splash away along the straggling village,
Out to the flat rich country green with June....
And sunset flares across wet crops and tillage,
Blazing with splendour-patches. Harvest soon
Up in the Line. "Perhaps the War'll be done
By Christmas-time. Keep smiling then, old son!"

Here's the Canal: it's dusk; we cross the bridge.
"Lead on there by platoons." The Line's a-glare
With shell-fire through the poplars; distant rattle
Of rifles and machine-guns. "Fritz is there!
Christ, ain't it lively, Sergeant? Is't a battle?"
More rain: the lightning blinks, and thunder rumbles.
"There's overhead artillery," some chap grumbles.

"What's all this mob, by the cross-road?" (The guides)....
"Lead on with Number One" (And off they go.)

"Three-minute intervals." ... Poor blundering files,
Sweating and blindly burdened; who's to know
If death will catch them in those two dark miles?
(More rain.) "Lead on, Headquarters."
(That's the lot.)
"Who's that? O, Sergeant-major; don't get shot!
And tell me, have we won this war or not?"

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