A Dead Boche

Robert Graves

To you who’d read my songs of War     

And only hear of blood and fame,          

I’ll say (you’ve heard it said before)       

”War’s Hell!” and if you doubt the same,          

Today I found in Mametz Wood           

A certain cure for lust of blood:   


Where, propped against a shattered trunk,     

In a great mess of things unclean,        

Sat a dead Boche; he scowled and stunk        

With clothes and face a sodden green,        

Big-bellied, spectacled, crop-haired,    

Dribbling black blood from nose and beard.                

Mametz Wood was the scene of bitter fighting during the Battle of the Somme. In July 1916, the Welsh Division, including Graves's regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, attacked the wood repeatedly and eventually captured it suffering terrible casualties. There is a monument to the Welsh soldiers beside the wood.