First World War Poetry Digital Archive

'The Assault Heroic'

'THE ASSAULT HEROIC' by ROBERT GRAVES

Down in the mud I lay, Tired out by my long day Of five damned days and nights, Five sleepless days and nights,... Dream snatched, and set me where The dungeon of Despair Looms over Desolate Sea, Frowning and threatening me With aspect high and steep--- A most malignant keep. My foes that lay within Shouted and made a din, Hooted and grinned and cried: 'To-day we've killed your pride; To-day your ardour ends. We've murdered all your friends; We've undermined by stealth Your happiness and your health. We've taken away your hope; Now you may droop and mope To misery and to death.' But with my spear of faith, Stout as an oaken rafter, With my round shield of laughter, With my sharp, tongue-like sword That speaks a bitter word, I stood beneath the wall And there defied them all. The stones they cast I caught And alchemized with thought Into such lumps of gold As dreaming misers hold. The boiling oil they threw Fell in a shower of dew, Refreshing me; the spears Flew harmless by my ears, Struck quivering in the sod; There, like the prophet's rod, Put leaves out, took firm root, And bore me instant fruit. My foes were all astounded, Dumbstricken and confounded, Gaping in a long row; They dared not thrust nor throw. Thus, then, I climbed a steep Buttress and won the keep, And laughed and proudly blew My horn, 'Stand to! Stand to! Wake up, sir! Here's a new Attack! Stand to! Stand to!'

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