Who am I to talk about a man
Who bravely left his peaceful house and home
To fight to save what he knew was decent and right ‒
To talk about a man, truly a man,
I who have shown the valour of a mouse?
He rose to the challenge to serve his country.
He had no doubt: one of the first
To enlist, not one to lose his nerve
Or give way to fears
Either setting out
Or when war was at its constant worst
As he threaded his way through four borderline years
Of running risks and reports and orders
To and from the front,
Learning the slow steps of that grotesque, macabre, mudmired dance
Where a long and deadly sitting out
Matched each short and fatal advance.
Who am I, who have always been weak,
To speak of strength of mind? ‒
To say how he survived the fighting
But did not return alive,
Outliving the length of the war by just one day,
Dying of disease that raked the ranks ‒
Almost an insult to one so brave,
Who am I to tell how he earned the thanks of his England
And respect in his foreign grave?
I salute him,
I who retreat when face-to-face with wrong
And can make no claim to such courage,
I who have known that disgrace too long
And can bring him no fame with these words.
But I am proud to write that there once lived and fought
An Alec Taylor who brought quiet honour to his name.
i.m. L/Cpl Alec Taylor
d. 12/11/1918 aged 22