Two Poems about War
by John Buxton

A Sonnet

I saw men, homes burst into sudden flower
Of crimson petals round each golden shell.
I listened to the whining bombs that fell
And felt the hard earth tremble at their power.
I saw bewildered eyes that hour by hour
Had peered through rifle sights. I heard men tell
How many rounds they fired. I learned, the smell
Of cattle burning in the byres is sour.
So much war taught me. And, when I return,
Because I did not cower nor shirk the fight,
But took a little part in this mad play,
Because I too have helped to kill, wreak, burn -
"You did your duty, helped defend the right,
You too were brave," some poor, blind fool will say.

For D. L., Killed In The Last War

We must fight now, not with any desire for tearing glory
From the jackets of the men we kill, and not in anger.
But in sorrow that men again must kill and be killed
Before the world you hoped for too can be called
Something more than a dream of men who are weary,
Something more than a respite of men from danger,
We must fight now.

We must fight now; not for more red miles on the schoolroom map -
No more than you. But while the men were cheering,
And the women had ended fearing how their sons were faring,
Someone stole your dreams and sold them for money.
They found your plans for a new world, tore them up,
And those who had made them had died - they were not many;
And we must fight now.

We must fight now, and we must keep our plans when the war is over,
And we must keep our hopes. And we must make
A world where this man and that can be clearly heard,
Where every man can hope, and think, and speak
Freely; where no man's faith is barred,
For this, that each man may be free forever,
We must fight now.

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John Buxton: Five Years to Liberty