Tidbits: Piper's Survivor's Guilt

Today, I'm off to College Station and then to Austin to help with the driving as my #2 son and his family relocate. So, yesterday, since I had already written two entries, I thought a quick Tidbits would serve as a post for today. 

Piper Durant is a soldier, and he went through a period when he really struggled with the consequences of the war. Since he was alone and isolated and cooling his heels in Paris, he started writing sonnets in lieu of phoning home. He must not have been able afford the roaming charges on his mobile bill.

Durant's Lamentable Sonnets

The woe of deep regret, "if only I
Had not turned aside, what then could have been?"
Cannot bespeak my grief, comfort denied,
Nor cause time's sands to me flow back again.
There is no prayer to stay the hand of death,
No sacrifice to stop the gaping grave,
No ram ensnared restores a brother's breath,
Though one gave all, the other's life to save.
Why then am I still quick, fate set at naught,
Whilst so much promise, nipped in bud of youth,
Returns dust to dust, his lone tomb e'er sought
By him who bears the onus of that truth?
      What hopes didst thou deny, o brother mine,
      When, selfless, thou didst change my death for thine?
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What future waits for me who yet draws breath?
What joys of love and life will yet be mine?
Why such denied thee by thine early death,
Why snuffed that promise bright which e'er was thine?
What merit have I shown which thou hath not?
What deed of mine first not was born of thee?
Hast thou not gone before, forever sought
Those bonds faith, of true fraternity?
How then came we to such a pass as this?
What better right have I to that desired?
What have I done to more deserve that bliss
Than thee, who from all good hath been inspired?
      What lustrous life of thine hath been denied.
      Too high the cost! For thou for me hast died.
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What right hast thou to seal this fate of mine?
Who made thee God to choose 'tween life and death?
Who asked of thee that sacrifice divine?
What better merit I to yet draw breath?
Tell me not that choice was thine to make,
That thou wouldst with thy life do one thing good.
Knowest thou not that given, I must take,
But make that choice myself? I never would.
My shoulders broad, my back anon will bend,
Beneath the onus of thy life now lost.
Thou sayest I will know that in the end
Thy purchase naught but cheap at twice the cost.
     That priceless gift of thine wast not my life.
     Whilst I could not, thou gavest me my wife.
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The cannonade thunders. The muskets roar.
Smoke of black powder hangs thick in the air.
The forces advance, a claim to restore,
The wounded afield give up in despair.
Whether upon battle's broad open plain
Or sequestered within halls of power,
Advance and attack will always remain,
Discounting the lives which war doth devour.
One hundred lives, or two or three or four,
One thousand lives—who tallies such a cost?
When one boy falls, his drum to beat no more,
What prince or king would know that child was lost?
      Would statesmen see a soul in numbers' stead
      If they were those who buried all the dead?

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—A Chaotic Mind

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