The Aftermath [poem, 16 February 1918]

[Editor: A poem published in Aussie: The Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, no. 2, 16 February 1918.]

The Aftermath.

Seek now thy heart and question which shall be,
The deeper Hell of two which offer thee,
The Hell of War that honour could not shun,
Or that which goes with duty left undone.

Hell, though it be of fury, fire and pain:
The Hell of War thou suff’rest not in vain.
The dead shall live by memory through the years,
Their resting place bedewed by Angel’s tears.

And they that live, returning to their land,
Shall through the years to come, in honour stand
And of the joys of Peace in full partake,
As those who suffered much for duty’s sake.

But — they who stayed behind to count the cost,
To argue “this is gained” or “that is lost,”
And holding back, bethought them of some gain,
At cost of those who suffered fire and pain,

Shall not in future years in council stand
To legislate the future of their land —
Nor still in blissful peace their ways pursue
Because, whilst others died, this peace they knew.

And they shall live forever in that state
Of Hell, whose terrors never shall abate.
Tormented conscience and a tortured mind
That through eternity no peace shall find.


Aussie: The Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, no. 2, 16 February 1918, page 8

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