The Wounded Soldier (excerpt)

An excerpt from a very early poem, no doubt written in the aftermath of the various Napoleonic battles.   The young John Clare, as always, pulls no punches in his condemnation of those he calls "the rich & great".

O cruel War when will thy horrors cease
And all thy slaughtering of poor men give oer
O sheath O sheath thy bloody blade in peace
Nor stain thy hand with human blood no more

See at yon door were round the children swarm
The piteous object of thy rage appears
Thou'st left him nothing but a single arm
Both legs are gone & he is old in years

O shatter'd man did ever eyes behold
A more distressing form of misery


O what I owe the tender feeling poor
Since I've been brought to this sad state you see 

Ne'er have I left their lowly welcome Door 

Without some token of their Charity

But O in vain (it grieves me to relate) 

These wooden stumps & this poor armless side 

Attracts the pity of the rich & great 

They deem my sorrows far beneath their pride

Yon house that shows its owners wealth & power 

Lur'd me to ask relief but ask'd in vain 

A scornful proudling drove me from the door 

To crave a morsel from the needy swain

But ah ye Rich as rich as you may be 

You—tho You fancy you can't want no more 

May by misfortune be reduc'd like me 

And glad to beg a crust from door to door

EP I 91

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