Unlucky Soldier

THIS is my friend, the fair Mozartian boy,
Gangling and gay and sudden as a bee,
Music his difficult passion and his joy,
Princely in fire and in humility:
Before he knew the pattern of his will
Or recognized his own life he was given
To the harsh will of war, impersonal
For three years up and down was driven,
Used and misused, the grace ground down,
The body hardened and the spirit dulled,
Until rebellion and despair were overthrown
(Not wounded, not in danger, not yet killed).
For three years J have watched him grow
And sweeten, laughing his way through hell,
This so uncelebrated, so inglorious, so
Unlucky soldier whom many have loved well,
Whose gifts, useless in war, were gifts of wonder,
Those meant for understanding and for living
The visions and the dreams he has plowed under,
But with those harvests stolen, still forgiving
(Not wounded, not yet killed, not yet in danger).
If, after all, enduring all, he lives to know his will,
Disarmed he will appear a marvelous and potent stranger
To serve us well whom we have served so ill.