Verse > Siegfried Sassoon > The Old Huntsman and Other Poems
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Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).  The Old Huntsman and Other Poems.  1918.

29. Stretcher Case


HE woke; the clank and racket of the train 
Kept time with angry throbbings in his brain. 
Then for a while he lapsed and drowsed again. 
  
At last he lifted his bewildered eyes 
And blinked, and rolled them sidelong; hills and skies,         5
Heavily wooded, hot with August haze, 
And, slipping backward, golden for his gaze, 
Acres of harvest.

                  Feebly now he drags
 
Exhausted ego back from glooms and quags 
And blasting tumult, terror, hurtling glare,  10
To calm and brightness, havens of sweet air. 
He sighed, confused; then drew a cautious breath; 
This level journeying was no ride through death. 
‘If I were dead,’ he mused, ‘there’d be no thinking— 
Only some plunging underworld of sinking,  15
And hueless, shifting welter where I’d drown.’ 
  
Then he remembered that his name was Brown. 
  
But was he back in Blighty? Slow he turned, 
Till in his heart thanksgiving leapt and burned. 
There shone the blue serene, the prosperous land,  20
Trees, cows and hedges; skipping these, he scanned 
Large, friendly names, that change not with the year, 
Lung Tonic, Mustard, Liver Pills and Beer. 


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