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

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Stokes Gunners by Ivor Gurney

Study for A Trench Mortar Firing at Evening by John Nash

The Stokes Gunners

When Fritz and we were nearly on friendly terms—

Of mornings, furtively, (O moral insects, O worms!)

A group of khaki people would saunter into

Our sector and plant a stove-pipe directed on to

Fritz trenches, insert black things, shaped like Ticklers jams—

The stove pipe hissed a hundred times and one might count to

A hundred damned unexpected explosions,

Which was all very well, but the group having finished performance

And hissed and whistled, would take their contrivance down to

Headquarters to report damage, and hand in forms

While the Gloucesters who desired peace or desired battle

Were left to pay the piper—Cursing Stokes to Hell, Montreal and Seattle.

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