War Dead

Gavin Ewart

With grey arm twisted over a green face
The dust of passing trucks swirls over him,
Lying by the roadside in his proper place,
For he has crossed the ultimate far rim
that hides us from the valley of the dead.
He lies like used equipment thrown aside,
Of which our swift advance can take no heed,
Roses, triumphal cars - but this one died.
Once war memorials, pitiful attempt
In some vague way regretfully to atone
For those lost futures that the dead had dreamt,
Covered the land with their lamenting stone -
But in our hearts we bear a heavier load:
The bodies of the dead beside the road.

Gavin Buchanan Ewart, FRSL (1916-1995) Poet and critic. Wellington College; Christ Church, Cambridge (BA Hons 1937) Served in Royal Artillery during the war (1940-1946) British Council (1946-1952) Advertising copywriter (1952-1981) Published some 20 books including several editions of his Collected Poetry.