World War I: Past Poets

by Michael Rutter

Seventy years now past
(It doesn 't seem that long ago to me)
Since armies of the world gathered
For the first time on the fields of France to see
The world at war: the sallow land,
Machine gun casings scattered in the sand,
Marked graves of soldiers who died young,
And more unmarked of those they flung
Across the land until the earth
Closed up, refusing birth
Until the gathered hulls
Of vanity were shields,
And landward gulls
Returned, unworrying to their fields.
The war to end all wars
And the always promised peace in time:
The old lie, too often told–as a whore
Who is pretty has cheated us like chimes
We listened to in a thunderstorm ;
You visited the grove and warned
With all the power of the Muses' wood;
Still, soldiers like beggars in their sacks stood
In limpid hell, uttering trench confessions
For the bitch's lost teeth and her obsessions,
For the broken scarues–dulce et decor,
For the lives she knowingly bled in vain,
For all the sins, returning as before.

Mike Rutter completed his Master's degree in English this summer and he now teaches at Provo
High School.