Robert Malise Bowyer Nichols
It is midday; the deep trench glares….
A buzz and blaze of flies….
The hot wind puffs the giddy airs….
The great sun rakes the skies.
No sound in all the stagnant trench
Where forty standing men
Endure the sweat and grit and stench,
Like cattle in a pen.
Sometimes a sniper's bullet whirs
Or twangs the whining wire,
Sometimes a soldier sighs and stirs
As in hell's frying fire.
From out a high, cool cloud descends
An aeroplane's far moan,
The sun strikes down, the thin cloud rends….
The black speck travels on.
And sweating, dazed, isolate
In the hot trench beneath,
We bide the next shrewd move of fate
Be it of life or death.
Robert Nichols was an English writer, poet and playwright.
He was educated Winchester and Oxford. He was in the trenches for only a few weeks before being invalided out with shell-shock in 1915, never to return.
He worked for Ministries of Labour and Information.