Break of Day in the Trenches

by


Break of Day in the Trenches is from Rosenberg's war poetry series, Poems of Camp and Trench.
The darkness crumbles away-

It is the same old druid Time as ever.

Only a live thing leaps my hand-

A queer sardonic rat-

As I pull the parapet's poppy

To stick behind my ear.

Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew

Your cosmopolitan sympathies.

Now you have touched this English hand

You will do the same to a German-

Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure

To cross the sleeping green between.

It seems you inwardly grin as you pass

Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes

Less chanced than you for life,

Bonds to the whims of murder,

Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,

The torn fields of France.

What do you see in our eyes

At the shrieking iron and flame

Hurled through still heavens?

What quaver - what heart aghast?

Poppies whose roots are in man's veins

Drop, and are ever dropping;

But mine in my ear is safe,

Just a little white with the dust.

You may also be interested in our collection of World War I Literature.


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