Archive for June 10th, 2022

Friday, 10 June 2022

The Soldier Speaks by Shawn Hamilton O’Leary

I cannot longer be as other men
Who trail from antic moment to event:
Who, frantic in their fever as the ant,
Clutch futile fingers at the hurricane
And, failing, find that they must make their run
Again. I who have seen the dragon’s teeth
Sown in sand, have known the clamorous crash
Of guns that garnished smoking holes with flesh,
Have seen guts ripped with shrapnel when blind faith
Was in men’s hearts and all they found was death…
I would be lost now in that other stream!
A ghost swift-walking in a windswept street
Would never the know the loneliness, regret
And grief that I would know like some dark crime
Encircling the memory in a frame.
Let me stay where the incense of the dead
Rises to the heraldic blaze of stars,
Or, private with the dog-black storm, knows wars
And a war’s ways; and at the end be laid
Softly down with the soil where the roots feed.

(But sometimes turning in the dark, I’ll start
And know an idiot spark burn the brain,
Burn the mind; and, sensing the silent groan
Of a dead comrade, wish again to court
A small space of living with the heart’s hurt.)

From: O’Leary, Shawn, “The Soldier Speaks” in The Bulletin, Volume 63, Number 3257 (15 July 1942), p. 4.
(https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-532647370/view?partId=nla.obj-532689707#page/n2/mode/1up)

Date: 1942

By: Shawn Hamilton O’Leary (1916-1992)