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Short poem

Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

Prayer of a Soldier in France

              1My shoulders ache beneath my pack
              2(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

              3I march with feet that burn and smart
              4(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

              5Men shout at me who may not speak
              6(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

              7I may not lift a hand to clear
              8My eyes of salty drops that sear.

              9(Then shall my fickle soul forget
            10Thy agony of Bloody Sweat?)

            11My rifle hand is stiff and numb
            12(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

            13Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
            14Than all the hosts of land and sea.

            15So let me render back again
            16This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Joyce Kilmer, ed. Robert Cortes Holliday, Vol. I (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, Inc., 1918), p. 109. PS 3521 I38Z5 1968 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1918
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/27

Form: couplets

Other poems by Joyce Kilmer