I am singing to you
Soft as a man with a dead child speaks;
Hard as a man in handcuffs,
Held where he cannot move:
Under the sun
Are sixteen million men,
Chosen for shining teeth,
Sharp eyes, hard legs,
And a running of young warm blood in their wrists.
And a red juice runs on the green grass;
And a red juice soaks the dark soil.
And the sixteen million are killing ... and killing and killing.
I never forget them day or night:
They beat on my head for memory of them;
they pound on my heart and I cry back to them,
To their homes and women, dreams and games.
I wake in the night and smell the trenches,
And hear the low stir of sleepers in the lines--
Sixteen million sleepers and pickets in the dark:
Some of them long sleepers for always,
Some of them tumbling to sleep to-morrow for always,
Fixed on the drag of the world's heartbreak,
Eating and drinking, toiling ... on a long job of killing.
Sixteen million men.