“From the Deck of a Transport (A Returning Soldier Speaks)” by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Armistice Day Special:
War is a crime committed against soldiers.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“From the Deck of a Transport (A Returning Soldier Speaks)”

Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

I am coming back with a singing soul through the surge of the splendid sea,
Coming back to the land called home, and the love that used to be—
I am coming back through a flash of spray, through a conquered tempest’s hum,
I am coming back, I am coming back…. But, God, do I want to come?

I have heard the shriek of the great shells speak to the dawn of a flaming day;
And a growling gun when the fight was won, and the twilight flickered gray,
I have seen men die with their chins raised high, and a curse that was half a prayer—
I have fought alone when a comrade’s groan was tense on the blinding air.

I have tramped a road when a burning load was strapped to my aching back,
Through miles of mud that was streaked with blood, when my closing eyes turned black—
I have cried aloud to a heedless crowd of a God that they could not know,
And have knelt at night when the way was bright with a rocket’s sullen glow.

I am going home through the whirling foam—home to her arms stretched wide—
I am going back to the beaten track and the sheltered fireside,
With gasping breath I have sneered at death, and have mocked at a shell’s swift shirr,
And safe again, through the years of pain, I am going back—to HER!

I am coming back with a singing soul through the surge of the splendid sea,
Coming back—BUT MY SINGING SOUL WILL NEVER BE QUITE FREE—
For I have killed, and my heart has thrilled to the call of the battle hum….
I am coming back to the used-to-be—But, God, do I want to come?

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