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Love Through The Ages | The Deserter

Ruth Owen | Wednesday October 12, 2011

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Guide Navigation

  1. Studying For The Exam
  2. Examples From Literature
  3. About The Exam
  4. Further Reading
  5. The Examination
  6. Symptoms of Love, Graves
  7. On Chesil Beach
  8. The First Tooth, Lamb
  9. The Soldier, Brooke
  10. A Lady of Letters
  11. Sonnet 130, Shakespeare
  12. Measure for Measure
  13. Hamlet
  14. Othello
  15. King Lear
  16. Equus
  17. Great Expectations
  18. Enduring Love
  19. Mid-Term Break, Heaney
  20. Your Last Drive
  21. The Going
  22. The Waste Land, Elliot

The Deserter

Winifred M. Letts 1882-1972

There was a man, — don’t mind his name,
Whom Fear had dogged by night and day.
He could not face the German guns
And so he turned and ran away.
Just that - he turned and ran away,
But who can judge him, you or I ?
God makes a man of flesh and blood
Who yearns to live and not to die.
And this man when he feared to die
Was scared as any frightened child,
His knees were shaking under him,
His breath came fast, his eyes were wild.
I’ve seen a hare with eyes as wild,
With throbbing heart and sobbing breath.
But oh ! it shames one’s soul to see
A man in abject fear of death,
But fear had gripped him, so had death;
His number had gone up that day,
They might not heed his frightened eyes,
They shot him when the dawn was grey.
Blindfolded, when the dawn was grey,
He stood there in a place apart,
The shots rang out and down he fell,
An English bullet in his heart.
An English bullet in his heart !
But here’s the irony of life, -
His mother thinks he fought and fell
A hero, foremost in the strife.
So she goes proudly; to the strife
Her best, her hero son she gave.
O well for her she does not know
He lies in a deserter’s grave.

How do the attitudes expressed in The Deserter differ from those in The Soldier?


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