First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Leveller

THE LEVELLER by ROBERT GRAVES

Near Martinpuisch that night of hell Two men were struck by the same shell, Together tumbling in one heap Senseless and limp like slaughtered sheep.

One was a pale eighteen-year-old, Blue-eyed and thin and not too bold, Pressed for the war ten years too soon, The shame and pity of his platoon.

The other came from far-off lands With bristling chin and whiskered hands, He had known death and hell before In Mexico and Ecuador.

Yet in his death this cut-throat wild Groaned 'Mother! Mother!' like a child, While that poor innocent in man's clothes Died cursing God with brutal oaths.

Old Sergeant Smith, kindest of men, Wrote out two copies there and then Of his accustomed funeral speech To cheer the womenfolk of each:---

'He died a hero's death: and we His comrades of "A" Company Deeply regret his death; we shall All deeply miss so true a pal.'

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