(1881 - 1958)
Many Sisters to Many Brothers
When we fought campaigns (in the long Christmas rains)
With soldiers spread in troops on the floor,
I shot as straight as you, my losses were as few,
My victories as many, or more.
And in naval battle, when, amid the rattle
Of cannon, fleet met fleet in the bath,
My cruisers were as trim, my battleships as grim,
My submarines cut as swift a path.
Or, when it rained too long, and the strength of the strong
Surged up and broke a way with blows,
I was as fit and keen, my fists hit as clean,
Your black eye matched my bleeding nose.
Was there a scrap or ploy in which you, the boy,
Could better me? You could not climb higher,
Ride straighter, run as quick (and to smoke made you sick)
. . . But I sit here, and you're under fire.
Oh, it's you that have the luck, out there in blood and muck:
You were born beneath a kindly star;
All we dreamed, I and you, you can really go and do,
And I can't, the way things are.
In a trench you are sitting, while I am knitting
A hopeless sock that never gets done.
Well, here's luck, my dear; ― and you've got it, no fear;
But for me . . . a war is poor fun.
Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay, DBE was a British writer. During WW1 Macaulay worked in the British Propaganda Department after some time as a nurse and later as a civil servant in the war Office. She published thirty-five books, mostly novels but also biographies and travel writing.