University of Oxford
aeae1a2f514909e5b20f06a1ff0149d2b023cd5f.txt (1.98 kB)

64500: Letter To S.S. From Bryn-Y-Pin

Download (1.98 kB)
online resource
posted on 2024-04-05, 12:37 authored by First World War Poetry Digital Archive Project Team

Poor Fusilier aggrieved with fate
That lets you lag in France so late,
When all our friends of two years past
Are free of trench and wire at last
Dear lads, one way or the other done
With grim-eyed War and homeward gone
Crippled with wounds or daft or blind,
Or leaving their dead clay behind,
Where still you linger, lone and drear,
Last of the flock, poor Fusilier.
Now your brief letters home pretend
Anger and scorn that this false friend
This fickle Robert whom you knew
To writhe once, tortured just like you,
By world-pain and bound impotence
Against all Europe's evil sense
Now snugly lurks at home to nurse
His wounds without complaint, and worse
Preaches 'The Bayonet' to Cadets
On a Welsh hill-side, grins, forgets. 20
That now he rhymes of trivial things
Children, true love and robins' wings
Using his tender nursery trick.
Though hourly yet confused and sick
From those foul shell-holes drenched in gas
The stumbling shades to Lethe pass---
'Guilty' I plead and by that token
Confess my haughty spirit broken
And my pride gone; now the least chance
Of backward thought begins a dance
Of marionettes that jerk cold fear
Against my sick mind: either ear
Rings with dark cries, my frightened nose
Smells gas in scent of hay or rose,
I quake dumb horror, till again
I view that dread La Bassée plain
Drifted with smoke and groaning under
The echoing strokes of rival thunder
That crush surrender from me now.
Twelve months ago, on an oak bough
I hung, absolved of further task,
My dinted helmet, my gas mask,
My torn trench tunic with grim scars
Of war; so tamed the wrath of Mars
With votive gifts and one short prayer.
'Spare me! Let me forget, O spare!'
'Guilty' I've no excuse to give
While in such cushioned ease I live
With Nancy and fresh flowers of June
And poetry and my young platoon,
Daring how seldom search behind
In those back cupboards of my mind
Where lurk the bogeys of old fear,
To think of you, to feel you near
By our old bond, poor Fusilier.





Graves, Robert (1895-1985)


(1995, 1997, 1999)

Date Created


Temporal Date





The Robert Graves Copyright Trust / Published in Graves, R. (1999) Complete Poems: Volumes 1 - 3. Eds. B. Graves and D. Ward. London: Penguin Books.

Repository Name



The First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Usage metrics

    The Robert Graves Collection


    Ref. manager