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Veterans’ Day: A Soldier—His Prayer

This anonymous poem was blown into a slit trench in Tunisia during a heavy bombardment in the early days of World War II. It was included in Poems to Live By in Uncertain Times, edited by Joan Murray.

A Soldier—His Prayer

Stay with me, God. The night is dark,
The night is cold: my little spark
Of courage dies. The night is long;
Be with me God, and make me strong.

I love a game; I love a fight.
I hate the dark; I love the light.
I love my child; I love my wife.
I am no coward. I love Life,

Life with its change of mood and shade.
I want to live. I'm not afraid,
But me and mine are hard to part;
Oh, unknown God, lift up my heart.

You stilled the waters at Dunkirk
And saved Your servants. All Your work
Is wonderful, dear God. You strode
Before us down that dreadful road.

We were alone, and hope had fled;
We loved our country and our dead.
And could not shame them; so we stayed
The course and were not much afraid.

Dear God that nightmare road! And then
That sea! We got there—we were men.
My eyes were blind, my feet were torn,
My soul sang like a bird at dawn.

I knew that death is but a door.
I knew what we were fighting for:
Peace for the kids, our brothers freed,
A kinder world, a cleaner breed.

I'm but the son my mother bore,
A simple man, and nothing more.
But—God of strength and gentleness,
Be pleased to make me nothing less.

Help me, O God, when Death is near
to mock the haggard face of fear,
That when I fall—if fall I must—
My soul may triumph in the Dust.