To R.V. Agius, Killed in Action, October 26, 1917

18th October 1928

Shall I turn traitor to thy memory
Because my fellows, hands upraised, proclaim:
“No more by us commemorated be,
Those bitter years of unrelievèd shame?”

Was there some magic in a khaki coat
That you and all your kindred went to War
Unsent, unhesitating? Did the note
Of bugles pass all music heard before?

Was it so easy to leave home and friends,
Long habits, comfort, safety, pleasant toil?
What gifts had war for you to make amends?
Did such as you return enriched with spoil?

Did you enjoy the searching winter wind,
Fatigue, the noisome presence of the slain,
Intolerable vermin, the unkind
Devouring, restless, undeservèd pain?

You went (your words stay written) to endure
Pain, labour, death if need be, for a Cause.
Your faith was resolute, your courage sure;
Not Youth’s untasted cup could make you pause.

For God? Indeed ‘twas thus you read His will,
To save your loved ones doom and misery.
For Christ? Of sacrifice you had your fill,
To ransom lives held dear even as He.

For us? We live. You, who endured, died …
If we forget our call to valour then,
Forget our promised gratitude, we lied.
Our loss is graver than a million men.