Tag Archives: first world war

Poetry Readings – #2: Charles Hamilton Sorley – When You See Millions Of The Mouthless Dead

The second in an occasional series of poetry readings,this is a stunningly effective poem from the First World War by the Scottish poet Charles Hamilton Sorley. Sorley was killed during the Battle of Loos at the age of 20.

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you’ll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“Yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the o’ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

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