Poetry: George S. Patton6 min read
George Smith Patton, Jr.
(November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945)
Through a Glass Darkly,
Perhaps I stabbed our Savior
In His sacred helpless side.
Yet I’ve called His name in blessing
When in after times I died.
Through the travail of the ages
Midst the pomp and toil of war
Have I fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star.
I have sinned and I have suffered
Played the hero and the knave
Fought for belly, shame or country
And for each have found a grave.
So as through a glass and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names – but always me.
So forever in the future
Shall I battle as of yore,
Dying to be born a fighter
But to die again once more.
I am that dreadful, blighting thing,
Like rat holes to the flood.
Like rust that gnaws the faultless blade,
Like microbes to the blood.
I know no mercy and no truth,
The young I blight, the old I slay.
Regret stalks darkly in my wake,
And ignominy dogs my way.
Sometimes, in virtuous garb I rove,
With facile talk of easier way;
Seducing where I dare not rape,
Young manhood, from it’s honor’s sway.
Again, in awesome guise I rush,
Stupendous, through the ranks of war,
Turning to water, with my gaze,
Hearts that, before, no foe could awe.
The maiden who has strayed from right,
To me must pay the mead of shame.
The patriot who betrays his trust,
To me must owe his tarnished name.
I spare no class, nor cult, nor creed,
My course is endless through the year.
I bow all heads and break all hearts,
All owe me homage — I am FEAR.
When all hearts are opened,
And all the secrets known,
When guile and lies are banished,
And subterfuge is gone.
When God rolls up the curtain,
And hidden truths appear,
When the ghastly light of Judgement Day,
Brings past and present near…
Then shall we know what once we knew,
Before wealth dimmed our sight,
That of all sins, the blackest is
The pride which will not fight.
The meek and pious have a place,
And necessary are,
But valor pales their puny rays,
As does the sun a star.
What race of men since time began,
Has ever yet remained,
Who trusted not it’s own right hand,
Or from brave deeds refrained?
Yet spite the fact for ages known,
And by all lands displayed,
We still have those who prate of peace,
And say that war is dead.
Yes vandals rise who seek to snatch
The laurels from the brave,
And dare defame heroic dead,
Now filling hero graves.
They speak of those who love,
Like Christ’s, exceeds the lust of life
And murderers slain to no avail,
A useless sacrifice.
With infamy without a name,
They mock our fighting youth,
And dare decry great hearts who die,
Battling for right and truth.
Woe to the land which, heeding them,
Lets avarice gain the day,
And trusting gold it’s right to hold,
Lets manly might decay.
Let us, while willing yet for peace,
Still keep our valor high,
So when our time of battle comes,
We shall not fear to die.
Make love of life and ease be less,
Make love of country more.
So shall our patriotism be
More than an empty roar.
For death is nothing, comfort less,
Valor is all in all;
Base nations who depart from it,
Shall sure and justly fall.
A Soldier’s Prayer
God of our Father, who by land and sea has ever
Led us on to victory, please continue your inspiring
Guidance in this greatest of our conflicts.
Strengthen my soul so that the weakening instinct of
Self preservation, which besets all of us in battle,
Shall not blind me to my duty to my own manhood, to the
Glory of my calling, and to my responsibility to my
Grant to our Armed Forces that disciplined valor and
Mutual confidence which insures success in war.
Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting,
But rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived.
If it be my lot to die, let me do so with courage and honor
In a manner which will bring the greatest harm to the
Enemy, and please, oh Lord, protect and guide those I
Shall leave behind.
Give us victory, Lord.
The Moon and the Dead
The road of the battle languished,
The hate from the guns was still,
While the moon rose up from a smoke cloud,
And looked at the dead on the hill.
Pale was her face with anguish,
Wet were her eyes with tears,
As she gazed on the twisted corpses,
Cut off in their earliest years.
Some were bit by the bullet,
Some were kissed by the steel,
Some were crushed by the cannon,
But all were still, how still!
The smoke wreaths hung in the hollows,
The blood stink rose in the air;
And the moon looked down in pity,
At the poor dead lying there.
Light of their childhood’s wonder,
Moon of their puppy love,
Goal of their first ambition,
She watched them from above.
Yet not with regret she mourned them,
Fair slain on the field of strife,
Fools only lament the hero,
Who gives for faith his life.
She sighed for the lives extinguished,
She wept for the loves that grieve,
But she glowed with pride on seeing,
That manhood still doth live.
The moon sailed on contented,
Above the heaps of slain,
For she saw that manhood liveth,
And honor breathes again.
A Soldier’s Burial
Not midst the chanting of the Requiem Hymn,
Nor with the solemn ritual of prayer,
Neath misty shadows from the oriel glass,
And dreamy perfume of the incensed air
Was he interred;
But in the subtle stillness after fight,
And the half light between the night and the day,
We dragged his body all besmeared with mud,
And dropped it, clod-like, back into the clay.
Yet who shall say that he was not content,
Or missed the prayers, or drone of chanting choir,
He who had heard all day the Battle Hymn
Sung on all sides by a thousand throats of fire.
What painted glass can lovelier shadows cast
Than those the evening skies shall ever shed,
While, mingled with their light, Red Battle’s Sun
Completes in magic colors o’er our dead
The flag for which they died.
God of Battles
From pride and foolish confidence,
From every waking creed,
From the dread fear of fearing,
Protect us, Lord, and lead.
Great God, who, through the ages,
Has braced the bloodstained hand,
As Saturn, Jove, or Woden
Has led our Warrior band.
Again we seek thy council,
But not in cringing guise,
We whine not for thy mercy,
To slay; God make us wise.
For slaves who shun the issue
Who do not ask thy aid,
To Thee we trust our spirits,
Our bodies, unafraid.
From doubt and fearsome bodings
Still Thou our spirits guard,
Make strong our souls to conquer.
Give us the victory, Lord.
Now in war we are confronted with conditions which are strange.
If we accept them we will never win.
Since by being realistic, as in mundane combats fistic,
We will get a bloody nose and that’s a sin.
To avoid such fell disaster, the result of fighting faster,
We resort to fighting carefully and slow.
We fill up terrestrial spaces with secure expensive bases
To keep our tax rate high and death rate low.
But with sadness and with sorrow we discover to our horror
That while we build, the enemy gets set.
So despite our fine intentions to produce extensive pensions
We haven’t licked the dirty bastard yet.
For in war just as in loving, you must always keep on shoving
Or you’ll never get your just reward.
For if you are dilatory in the search for lust and glory
You are up shit creek and that’s the truth, Oh! Lord.
So let us do real fighting, boring in and gouging, biting.
Let’s take a chance now that we have the ball.
Let’s forget those fine firm bases in the dreary shell raked spaces.
Let’s shoot the works and win! Yes, win it all!
Photo: By U.S. Army Signal Corps (US Army Center for Military History) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons