The Soldier is Home [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]

The Soldier is Home

Weary is he, and sick of the sorrow of war,
Hating the shriek of loud music, the beat of the drum;
Is this the shadow called glory men sell themselves for?
The pangs in his heart they have paled him, and stricken him dumb!
Oh! yes, the soldier is home!

Still does he think of one morning, the march and the sun!
A smoke, and a scream, and the dark, and next to his mind
Comes the time of his torment, when all the red fighting was done!
And he mourned for the good legs he left in the desert behind.
Oh! yes, the soldier is home!

He was caught with the valour of music, the glory of kings,
The diplomat’s delicate lying, the cheers of a crowd,
And now does he hate the dull tempest, the shrill vapourings —
He who was proud, and no beggar now waits for his shroud!
Oh! yes, the soldier is home!

Now shall he sit in the dark, his world shall be fearfully small —
He shall sit with old people, and pray and praise God for fine weather;
Only at times shall he move for a glimpse away over the wall,
Where the men and the women who make up the world are striving together!
Oh! yes, the soldier is home!

Simple, salt tears, full often will redden his eyes;
No one shall hear what he hears, or see what he sees;
He shall be mocked by a flower, and the flush of the skies!
He shall behold the kissing of sweethearts — close by him, here, under the trees —
Oh! yes, the soldier is home!

John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], pages 158-159

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