With thanks to the Laudator:
Richard Wilbur, from On Freedom’s Ground, III (Like a Great Statue):
Mourn for the dead who died for this country,
Whose minds went dark at the edge of a field,
In the muck of a trench, on the beachhead sand,
In a blast amidships, a burst in the air.
What did they think of before they forgot us?
In the blink of time before they forgot us?
The glare and whiskey of Saturday evening?
The drone or lilt of their family voices?
The bend of a trout stream? A fresh-made bed?
The sound of a lathe, or the scent of sawdust?
The mouth of a woman? A prayer? Who knows?
Let us not force them to speak in chorus,
These men diverse in their names and faces
Who lived in a land where a life could be chosen.
Say that they mattered, alive and after;
That they gave us time to become what we could.