A Renascence

White flabbiness goes brown and lean,
    Dumpling arms are now brass bars,
They’ve learnt to suffer and live clean,
    And to think below the stars.
They’ve steeled a tender, girlish heart,
    Tempered it with a man’s pride,
Learning to play the butcher’s part
    Though the woman screams inside—
Learning to leap the parapet,
    Face the open rush, and then
To stab with the stark bayonet,
    Side by side with fighting men.
On Achi Baba’s rock their bones
    Whiten, and on Flanders’ plain,
But of their travailings and groans
    Poetry is born again.

More Poems by Robert Graves