The General’s breast was covered with ribbons
Gained in the Great World War.
I could not but gaze in amaze at those ribbons
And ask myself what they were for.
For the general had never been once in the trenches –
Or even been once under fire.
He knew nothing of rats, or of lice, or the stenches
That rise from dead limbs sticking out of the mire.
He had sat in a chateau, well back from the battle,
And sent up his orders by phone,
Bidding us give up our lives for our Country,
Without any gift of his own.
He had ordered great sorties, and when the survivors
Got back to their billets for rest
They eyed with surprise yet another bright ribbon
Adorning the General’s breast …