Battery A, 10th AART Battalion, U.S. Army
North Africa and Italy, 1942–1944
Those last three days, reciting from memory
Cicero and Vergil, you could quote
Long passages of Latin poetry.
It left us stunned. The only antidote
To poison in your flesh was blessèd words.
No other good thing comforted you when
Pulsating life, just like a flock of birds,
Gathered its wings to fly. The deaths of men
Can be as silent as the moon’s eclipse,
Spectrally speechless as fields after battle,
Loud as the riven sky’s apocalypse
With thundering noise—or mindless as a rattle.
Benson, your answer to encroaching dark
Was lustrous language, flaring like a spark.