Much is made of the First World War poets at this time of year, but WW2 produced some very moving poems as well, some of the best of which were written by Vernon Scannell, who died today. Here's one of them, 'Walking Wounded': A mammoth morning moved grey flanks and groaned. In the rusty hedges pale rags of mist hung; The gruel of mud and leaves in the mauled lane Smelled sweet, like blood. Birds had died or flown, Their green and silent attics sprouting now With branches of leafed steel, hiding round eyes And ripe grenades ready to drop and burst. In the ditch at the crossroads the fallen rider lay Hugging his dead machine and did not stir At crunch of mortar, tantrum of a Bren, Answering to a Spandau's manic jabber. Then into sight the ambulances came, Stumbling and churning past the broken farm, The amputated signpost and smashed trees, Slow wagonloads of bandaged cries, square trucks That rolled on ominous wheels, vehicles Made mythopoeic by their mortal freight And crimson crosses on the dirty white. This grave procession passed, though, for a while, The grinding of their engines could be heard, A dark noise on the pallor of the morning, Dark as dried blood; and then it faded, died. The road was empty, but it seemed to wait - Like a stage that knows the cast is in the wings - Waiting for a different traffic to appear. The mist still hung in snags from dripping thorns; Absent-minded guns still sighed and thumped. And then they came, the walking wounded, straggling the road like convicts loosely chained, Dragging at ankles exhaustion and despair. Their heads were weighted down by last night's lead, And eyes still drank the dark. They trailed the night Along the morning road. Some limped on sticks; Others wore rough dressings, splints and slings; A few had turbanned heads, the dirty cloth Brown-badged with blood. A humble brotherhood, Not one was suffering from a lethal hurt, They were not magnified by noble wounds, There was no splendour in that company. And yet, remembering after eighteen years, In the heart's throat a sour sadness stirs; Imagination pauses and returns To see them walking still, but multiplied In thousands now. And when heroic corpses Turn slowly in their decorated sleep And every ambulance has disappeared The walking wounded still trudge down that lane And when recalled they must bear arms again. Apologies for any spelling errors. I couldn't find it anywhere on the internet so had to type it up.