A Subaltern He turned to me with his kind, sleepy gaze
by Siegfried Sassoon
[from The Old Huntsman and Other Poems, 1918]
And fresh face slowly brightening to the grin
That sets my memory back to summer days,
With twenty runs to make, and last man in.
He told me he’d been having a bloody time
In trenches, crouching for the crumps to burst,
While squeaking rats scampered across the slime
And the grey palsied weather did its worst.
But as he stamped and shivered in the rain,
My stale philosophies had served him well;
Dreaming about his girl had sent his brain
Blanker than ever—she’d no place in Hell….
‘Good God!’ he laughed, and slowly filled his pipe,
Wondering ‘why he always talked such tripe’.
He turned to me with his kind, sleepy gaze