Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

30 July 1918: Joyce Kilmer Is Killed in Action


        by Joyce Kilmer, 165th Inf., 42nd Division, AEF

 My shoulders ache beneath my pack
          (Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).
        I march with feet that burn and smart
        (Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).
        Men shout at me who may not speak
        (They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).
        I may not lift a hand to clear
        My eyes of salty drops that sear.
        (Then shall my fickle soul forget
        Thy agony of Bloody Sweat?)
        My rifle hand is stiff and numb
        (From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).
        Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
        Than all the hosts of land and sea.
        So let me render back again
        This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. The 165th Inf Regt was the modern designation of the Civil War 69th New York Vol Inf Regt, the "Fighting 69th" of the Irish Brigade. In WW1 it was assigned to the 42nd "Rainbow" Division.
    On July 24, the 42nd Division moved to Chateau Thierry to relieve the embattled US 26th Division. The Fighting 69th led with distinction the crossing of the Ourcq River July 28–31 and suffering 264 KIA (including poet Sgt Joyce Kilmer), 150 MIA, and 1200 WIA out of the 3000 man regiment in four days fighting. Having broken the German lines, who were now reluctantly retreating, 42nd Division brigade commander Douglas MacArthur was looking to press forward. When informed that the other regiments had replied that they were "too fatigued" but that the decimated 69th replied that it would still "consider an order to advance as a compliment", he exclaimed "By God, it takes the Irish when you want a hard thing done!"