SILENCED WITNESS

When the desert winds have blown,
Cross the battlefield, I own,
In its floor, sad holes I found
Hiding soldiers underground.

Twelve springs' winds had come a-pace;
Drifting cross that hiding place;
Sand dunes swept, like golden sea,
Cross old tank tracks past my knee.

Under drifts in corps they lie;
Each looks up with sand-burned eye,
Guardsman's garb and clogged-up gun,
Shorn of stars and of the sun.

Yet when, now, the sands again
Cleft through are by rivals' pain,
When they're strewn with warlike gear,
These, unnumbered, reappear.

You shall find them, never fear,
You shall find those comrades dear;
And for all that's gone and come,
You shall find those soldiers dumb.

They had lived, no little thing,
'Tween the rivers of men's spring;
Done, if they could tell you true,
Just as you would like to do.

They had once seen starry hours
And the fertile valley's flowers
And the little things of worth
In this cradle of our earth.

Since, in silence, have they heard
Eagles scream? and wild Blackbird?
And the Black Hawks as they've flown
O'er them as they lie like stone?

Not a word can they disclose,
Not a word can they expose.
So we leave them in their grave,
And tell the tales our faces save.

                    (Apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson)

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