Scottish Poetry Selection
- In Memoriam, Private D. Sutherland

This poem was written by Ewart Alan Mackintosh (1893-1917). Mackintosh is widely regarded as one of Scotland's finest war poets. He went to the Western Front with the 5th Seaforth Highlanders in 1915. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry at the Somme. After being invalided home after being gassed, Mackintosh was offered a post instructing cadets. But he chose to return to France and was killed at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917.

The full title of the poem is "In Memoriam, Private D. Sutherland, killed in action in the German trench 16 May 1916, and the others who died."

In Memoriam, Private D. Sutherland

So you were David's father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.

Oh, the letters he wrote you
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year got stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.

You were only David's father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up in the evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight-
O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers',
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying,
And hold you when you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
They saw their first-born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed 'Don't leave me, sir"
For they were only your fathers
But I was your officer.

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