Verse > Siegfried Sassoon > Counter-Attack and Other Poems
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Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).  Counter-Attack and Other Poems.  1918.

8. The Effect

‘The effect of our bombardment was terrific.
One man told me he had never seen so many dead before.’
        —War Correspondent.


‘HE’D never seen so many dead before.’ 
They sprawled in yellow daylight while he swore 
And gasped and lugged his everlasting load 
Of bombs along what once had been a road. 
‘How peaceful are the dead.’         5
Who put that silly gag in some one’s head? 
  
‘He’d never seen so many dead before.’ 
The lilting words danced up and down his brain, 
While corpses jumped and capered in the rain. 
No, no; he wouldn’t count them any more...  10
The dead have done with pain: 
They’ve choked; they can’t come back to life again. 
  
When Dick was killed last week he looked like that, 
Flapping along the fire-step like a fish, 
After the blazing crump had knocked him flat...  15
‘How many dead? As many as ever you wish. 
Don’t count ’em; they’re too many. 
Who’ll buy my nice fresh corpses, two a penny?’ 


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