Private MacPhee

🙂 To hear this poem, use the player below. 🙂

By Paul Raworth Bennett

~ for brave soldiers everywhere ~

He was a kind and loyal friend
Who hailed from clan MacPhee
And all the boys were jealous ‘cause
He loved his girl Marie
A lock of hair from her he kept
Within a tiny box
And in his heart were memories of
Their kiss back on the docks

The trenches were our muddy home
That cold November day
The enemy was coming and
The angry skies turned grey
MacPhee had always relished life
With humour and aplomb
Until things took a nasty turn
Beside the River Somme

In pouring rain Commander Blaine
Did send us o’er the top
The boys were seized with terror but
It was too late to stop
So as we braved artillery fire
And crossed the sodden fields
Six inches deep the slimy muck
Would grab us by the heels

And one by one the German guns
Did take my brothers down
And soon the wails of writhing
Agony did us surround
Then through a wall of mustard gas
And howling wind and sleet
A blasting shell did strike MacPhee
And knock him off his feet

He hit the ground without a sound
Save for a leaden thud
I tried to clutch his innards as
They spilled upon the mud
His handsome face was anguished and
Was quivering and wan
My shaking hands were useless and
His lower legs were gone

From brilliant blue to misty grey
Did change his frightened eyes
I watched his sluggish lips as they
Were mouthing silent cries
My eyes filled up with water as
He tried to speak to me
But all that he could whisper was
How much he loved Marie

And helplessly I howled and sobbed
While MacPhee’s life did drain
Out from his slumping body and
Across the muddy plain
With filthy hands I held the man
Who was my closest friend
As God forsook my dear MacPhee
During his gruesome end

I know MacPhee lives on today
In hunched and aging vets
They gave their lives, we must ensure
That nobody forgets
The bloody crucibles of death
Where Satan did prevail:
The Somme, the hills of Vimy Ridge
And fields of Paschendale

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