Under the olive trees, from the ground
Grows this flower, which is a wound.
It is easier to ignore
Than the heroes' sunset fire
Of death plunged in their willed desire
Raging with flags on the world's shore.
Its opened petals have no name
Except the coward's nameless shame
Whose inexpiable blood
For his unhealing wound is food.
A man was killed, not like a soldier
With lead but with rings of terror;
To him, that instant was the birth
Of the final hidden truth
When the troopship at the quay,
The mother's care, the lover's kiss,
The following handkerchiefs of spray,
All led to the bullet and to this.
Flesh, bone, muscle and eyes
Assembled in a tower of lies
Were scattered on an icy breeze
When the deceiving past betrayed
All their perceptions in one instant,
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Still Centre. Contributors: Stephen Spender - Author. Publisher: Faber and Faber. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1939. Page number: 59.
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