|What Life For A Soldier
© Copyright George Papavgeris, January 2003
focusing on the effect of war even on the winners. The last verse refers to human frailty again: while we all aspire to high ideals, many (most?) of us will inevitably fail to reach them, and will be left with the bitter aftertaste of failure. But I love them/us all, not just those that make it to the pedestal.
What life for a soldier when soldiering's over?
What life for a fighter when fighting is done?
As you put the gun down, what dreams for the future?
What plans for the peacetime you helped bring around?
As home you return now all covered in glory
For helping the wrongs of this world to put right
When you try to sleep it's a different story
The battles you fought now you'll fight every night.
You come back a hero, with medals to prove it;
Your friends they will praise you, your family proud.
But no praise can cover the sounds of your nightmare
The shots that you fired in your ears will ring loud.
No reason or logic, your training took over;
It was you or him and the better man won.
But louder than gunshots the sound that will haunt you:
Your enemy calling in some foreign tongue.
You don't speak his language, but you can be certain
He called for his mother, a lover or wife.
You know you would do just the same if you were him,
If all you had left was one second of life.
Though letting him go then it would have been treason
Your dreams from his voice now will never be free.
When life you have taken, no matter the reason,
The man that you were you no longer can be.
Please don't get me wrong, for I'm not criticising.
You did what you had to, and you did it well.
His death I am mourning, but only in passing.
It's just that I feel that I'm sharing your hell.
To know that despite of all my good intentions,
If I was in your place I'd do just the same.
I would pull the trigger without any questions;
And knowing all that is what fills me with shame.
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