Posted in POEM OF THE WEEK

Civilian and Soldier by Wole Soyinka

My apparition rose from the fall of lead, 

Declared, ‘I am a civilian.’ It only served 

To aggravate your fright. For how could I 

Have risen, a being of this world, in that hour 

Of impartial death! And I thought also: nor is 

Your quarrel of this world. 
You stood still 

For both eternities, and oh I heard the lesson

Of your traing sessions, cautioning – 

Scorch earth behind you, do not leave 

A dubious neutral to the rear. Reiteration 

Of my civilian quandary, burrowing earth 

From the lead festival of your more eager friends 

Worked the worse on your confusion, and when 

You brought the gun to bear on me, and death 

Twitched me gently in the eye, your plight 

And all of you came clear to me. 
I hope some day 

Intent upon my trade of living, to be checked 

In stride by your apparition in a trench, 

Signalling, I am a soldier. No hesitation then 

But I shall shoot you clean and fair 

With meat and bread, a gourd of wine 

A bunch of breasts from either arm, and that 

Lone question – do you friend, even now, know 

What it is all about?

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