Another quiet morning, Here in the rear

No attack, no big push, nothing much here to fear

No thunder of guns, just the loom of the sun

Beyond the still-dark land of Verdun

Lighting the far Eastern sky all aglow

Bathing in soft light the fields below

Too gentle as yet to starkly show

What's been done to the landscape by thousands of guns

Which then as the sun rises higher appears

Shell-pitted, corpse-littered, savagely seared

In all its ruptured, horrible weird

Naked sadness.

No birdsong this morning, no rustling of leaves

Stark sentinel stumps of silent dead trees

And distant machine guns clearing their throats

As bleary-eyed men in grey overcoats

Make sure nothing is breathing, of flesh or of blood

Make sure nothing but ghosts are left to encroach

On their Kaiser's personal plateau of mud.

© nigel hallworth 2014

The battle of Verdun started in February 1916 and continued on and off until December.