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"Gassed", painting by John Singer Sargent in Northern France during World War I, 1918-19 
Prayer of a Soldier in France
by Joyce Kilmer (1888-1918)

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.


Go to other poems by Kilmer | Trees | The Peacemaker |

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(c) 2001 Don Schwager