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SOLDIER (Harvey Andrews - 1972) In a station in the city, a British soldier stood Talking to the people there, if the people would Some just stared in hatred, and others turned in pain And the lonely British soldier wished he was back home again 'Come join the British Army' said the posters in his town See the world and have your fun, come serve before the Crown The jobs were hard to come by and he could not face the dole So he took his country's shilling and enlisted on the roll For there was no fear of fighting, the Empire long was lost Just ten years in the army, getting paid for being bossed Then leave a man experienced, a man who's made the grade A medal and a pension, some mem'ries and a trade Then came the call for Ireland as the call had come before Another bloody chapter in an endless civil war The priests they stood on both sides, the priests they stood behind Another fight in Jesus's name, the blind against the blind The soldier stood between them, between the whistling stones And then the broken bottles that led to broken bones The petrol bombs that burnt his hands, the nails that pierced his skin And wished that he had stayed at home surrounded by his kin The station filled with people, the soldier soon was bored But better in the station than where the people warred The room filled up with mothers, with daughters and with sons Who stared with itchy fingers at the soldier and his gun A yell of fear, a screech of brakes, the shattering of glass The window of the station broke to let the package pass A scream came from the mothers as they ran towards the door Dragging their children crying from the bomb upon the floor The soldier stood and could not move, his gun he could not use He knew the bomb had seconds and not minutes on the fuse He could not run and pick it up and throw it in the street There were far too many people there, too many running feet "Take cover," yelled the soldier, "Take cover for your lives" And the Irishmen threw down their young and stood before their wives They turned towards the soldier, their eyes alive with fear For God's sake save our children or they'll end their short lives here The soldier moved towards the bomb, his stomach like a stone Why was this his battle, God, why was he alone He lay down on the package and he murmured one farewell To those at home in England, to those he loved so well He saw the sights of summer, felt the wind upon his brow The young girls in the city parks, how precious were they now The soaring of the swallow, the beauty of the swan The music of the turning world, so soon would it be gone A muffled soft explosion and the room began to quake The soldier blown across the floor, his blood a crimson lake There was no time to cry or shout, there was no time to moan And they turned their children's faces from the blood and from the bones The crowd outside soon gathered and the ambulances came To carry off the body of a pawn lost in the game And the crowd they clapped and cheered and they sang their rebel song One soldier less to interfere where he did not belong And will the children growing up learn at their mothers' knees The story of the soldier who bought their liberty Who used his youthful body as a means towards an end Who gave his life to those who called him murderer not friend (Contributed by - June 2010)

    


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