“The Dumb Soldier” / “George W. Bush Thinks Of His Soldiers”

The other day I was reading through Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic book of children’s poems, “A Child’s Garden of Verse,” when I came across the poem below. It’s entitled “The Dumb Soldier.” Having read it, there was no way I could stop myself from imagining an alternative title to this poem being “George W. Bush Thinks Of His Soldiers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN the grass was closely mown,  

Walking on the lawn alone,  

In the turf a hole I found  

And hid a soldier underground.  

  

Spring and daisies came apace;

Grasses hide my hiding place;  

Grasses run like a green sea  

O’er the lawn up to my knee.  

  

Under grass alone he lies,  

Looking up with leaden eyes, 

Scarlet coat and pointed gun,  

To the stars and to the sun.  

  

When the grass is ripe like grain,  

When the scythe is stoned again,  

When the lawn is shaven clear,

Then my hole shall reappear.  

  

I shall find him, never fear,  

I shall find my grenadier;  

But for all that’s gone and come,  

I shall find my soldier dumb. 

  

He has lived, a little thing,  

In the grassy woods of spring;  

Done, if he could tell me true,  

Just as I should like to do.  

  

He has seen the starry hours

And the springing of the flowers;  

And the fairy things that pass  

In the forests of the grass.  

  

In the silence he has heard  

Talking bee and ladybird,

And the butterfly has flown  

O’er him as he lay alone.  

  

Not a word will he disclose,  

Not a word of all he knows.  

I must lay him on the shelf, 

And make up the tale myself.

 

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Dan Harrell

    I think Bush would have used this.

    In Flanders Fields

    By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

    Canadian Army

    IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow

    Between the crosses row on row,

    That mark our place; and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago

    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

    Loved and were loved, and now we lie

    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:

    To you from failing hands we throw

    The torch; be yours to hold it high.

    If ye break faith with us who die

    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

    In Flanders fields.

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    Not to sound trite, but what's done is done . . . may we learn the lesson that war doesn't end the struggle between human/cultural mindsets. Forgiveness is what heals the land . . . moves us on to better things for the children of those who fell in the name of patriotism.

  • http://www.america2014.com B. Han

    Interesting twist on Bush; as opposed to thousands of politically oriented rant; it does make us wonder how to leave this guy in the footprints of history.

    Sometimes fiction, whether poem or novel, has been a greater echo of an age than media report or news….about Bush there is this book called America 2014 I read a while ago that's really good; it's about imagining a totalitarian U.S. run by Bush-like character…ringing a bell to 1984; if interested go check it out at america2014.com

    Thanks for the reflection.

    B. Han

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    President Bush often comes across as empty and unfeeling but, I feel that he is far more aware of the soldier than his predecessor.

    I would like to pose this question: Why do you want our military to withdraw from the Middle East? or what should the United States do about the situation in the Middle East?

    Just wondering…

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    I love poetry. It is so much more powerful than just,"The victor writes the history."

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Nice, but my favorite is still Randall Jarrell’s “Death of a Ball Turret Gunner” and Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed.”

    As far as contemporary poetry based on the Iraq War, might I suggest Brian Turner’s “Here, Bullet.” to you?

    I don’t think Bush reads poetry, though, and think of him as “empathetically-challenged” – a condition I’m struggling to overcome.

    -Sam

  • Pingback: Should I stay or should I go, now? « Wineymomma and the monsters


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