First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Big Words

BIG WORDS by ROBERT GRAVES

'I've whined of coming death, but now, no more! It's weak and most ungracious. For, say I, Though still a boy if years are counted, why! I've lived those years from roof to cellar-floor, And feel, like grey-beards touching their fourscore, Ready, so soon as the need comes, to die: And I'm satisfied. For winning confidence in those quiet days Of peace, poised sickly on the precipice side Of Lliwedd crag by Snowdon, and in war Finding it firmlier with me than before; Winning a faith in the wisdom of God's ways That once I lost, finding it justified Even in this chaos; winning love that stays And warms the heart like wine at Easter-tide; Having earlier tried False loves in plenty; oh! my cup of praise Brims over, and I know I'll feel small sorrow, Confess no sins and make no weak delays If death ends all and I must die to-morrow.'

But on the firestep, waiting to attack, He cursed, prayed, sweated, wished the proud words back.

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