To My Husband: A Soldier’s Holiday

What joy I have of you, and how it comes
Is for the pipe and for the drums,
Is for the underpinning thump and shish of twenty thumbs
Beneath the thirsty, windy bagpipes bray
And feet downplanted, feet upflung
Face forgot and face undone
Of all St. George’s truest men on holiday
And all their dear true ladies, “Come away!”
Oh, it’s a holiday whenever soldiers enter their own homes
If he’s been gone a year or half a day,
The lady knows he will not always stay.

Then kiss St. George’s cross,
and it is dread,
And pray against all loss
And all bloodshed
Then to forget the burden, come and toss,
In gayest mockery of loss:

Your feet above your knees
Your salad in a big red bowl
Your child laughing in your arms beneath the trees
Your wife’s blown hair behind her neck;
And then some hay.
And that’s a soldier’s nightly holiday.

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