First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Dead-Beat

THE DEAD-BEAT by WILFRED OWEN

He dropped,---more sullenly than wearily, Lay stupid like a cod, heavy like meat, And none of us could kick him to his feet; ---Just blinked at my revolver, blearily; ---Didn't appear to know a war was on, Or see the blasted trench at which he stared. 'I'll do 'em in,' he whined. 'If this hand's spared, I'll murder them, I will.'

                       A low voice said,

'It's Blighty, p'raps, he sees; his pluck's all gone, Dreaming of all the valiant, that aren't dead: Bold uncles, smiling ministerially; Maybe his brave young wife, getting her fun In some new home, improved materially. It's not these stiffs have crazed him; nor the Hun.'

We sent him down at last, out of the way. Unwounded;---stout lad, too, before that strafe. Malingering? Stretcher-bearers winked, 'Not half!'

Next day I heard the Doc's well-whiskied laugh: 'That scum you sent last night soon died. Hooray!'

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