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The Prayer of the Army Men

From The Topeka State Journal, December 8, 1914. By Kenneth Proctor Littauer.

At the going, when we stumble up the gangway to the ship,
While we wish, and curse the wish, that we could stay;
On the Channel, as we watch the yearning cliffs of England dip,
Help us, Lord, to hide our sickened hearts away!

On the marches—on the marches with the blisters on our feet,
When our kits weigh not much less than half a ton,
And our one idea of Heaven is a place to sleep and eat—
Give us strength, Lord, ’til our thirty miles are done!

Through the weary, starlit vigils when we guard the sleeping tents,
Where they huddle grey behind us in the gloom,
Bid us challenge every phantom that our fear of death invents;
Keep our ears alert to hear the creeping Doom!

In the trenches, with the bullet-ridden earthworks spurting dust
And the peering rifle muzzles spitting flame;
In the sweating bayonet charges, with the thrust and wrench and thrust,
Hear us when we, dying, call upon Thy name!

In the winning, in the losing, in the triumph, the despair,
Be we victors or the holders of defeat,
Keep us mindful of the honor of a nation that we bear;
Let our souls, Lord, be above the fate we meet!

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