i.m. Captain Keith Douglas (1920-1944)
In Calvados you have your cross,
And though you won, we surely lost.
Your sacrifice, at twenty-four, to modern 'wit'
Is nothing more than a crying bore.
Who now has read Alamein to Zem Zem
Your story of the war in the western desert?
For though you knew how to kill
You most certainly knew the cost,
You wore no draperies over your eyes.
Nor in your heart: no deception, no disguise.
And when you were chained to an office,
Hidebound behind the front line,
Somebody laid a coin upon your tongue
And lyric water sprang anew
Amongst the desert flowers.
And so in October 1942,
Against orders, you set off
To see what you could do
In a tank.
This venial sin was soon forgotten in the crush of war
And you drove your tank indomitably!
And then on the 9 June1944,
As keen to ‘to do your bit’ as you’d been in 1939,
Normandy took your life, aged just 24.
Killed by enemy fire,
Your body buried in a road side grave:
After the war your dear remains were re-interred at Tilly-sur-Seulles.
War Cemetery, south of Bayeux, plot 1, row E, grave number 2
Go there, you can see all that remains of me.