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Rate this poem:5.0 / 14 votes
The Unknown Soldier

I am the Unknown Soldier and you’re standing on my grave
but please don't confuse me with one considered brave.
I was eighteen years old when I answered the call,
went over the top and one of the first to fall.
I didn't die a hero, indeed an inglorious death.
Calling out for my mother took my dying breath.
The bravest thing that I have ever done
is to tell my story in the shadow of the gun.

They took me from that foreign field where I met my doom
Scraped me into a box and brought me to this tomb
I have been on parade for a hundred years
Politicians and puppets and crocodile tears
The self-same people who determined my fate
blending ceremoniously with the good and the great
Their faces overcome by unmeasurable grief
I grin and bare it as I lay underneath

Please forgive me as I turn in my grave
observing these people and how they behave.
I must confess it's through gritted teeth
I watch them come forward and lay their wreath.
The humble poppy from those fields of green
A symbolic emblem turned money machine.
To our fallen soldiers for whom we cried for
Contradicting the values they thought they died for

I watched proudly as the parades went by,
my old comrades with their heads held high.
Alas, they are no longer that brave band of brothers.
Continually replaced by a brave band of others
I am sorry my comrades I have no wish to offend
but is it time for this charade to end.
Caught up in the euphoria of eternal grief.
I shake my head in disbelief.

And what about our one time foe,
our despised enemy from long ago.
With a tormented past she would rather forget.
Salting her wounds every opportunity we get.
With dignity and compassion she has led the way
In this troubled world we have today
The time has come to bury the past
And seek a peace designed to last

Please don’t imagine that I lack respect
If I do not behave as you might expect
We will never forget those who gave their lives
and never forget those grieving wives.
Those fatherless children and broken hearted mothers.
Devastated comrades, a broken band of brothers
If the drums of war would only cease
Then this Unknown Soldier and many others
would finally rest in peace.

About this poem

This is an anti war poem and conveys my feelings regarding all the remembrance ceremonies that takes place all over the world. I believe they glorify war and nothing more than a recruitment tool.

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Written on November 11, 2020

Submitted by Davyreilly on March 25, 2024

2:10 min read

David Reilly

Also writes children’s books more…

All David Reilly poems | David Reilly Books

8 fans


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Discuss the poem The Unknown Soldier with the community...

  • nwafor_a
    The first metaphor got me, almost made me step away from some graves. Strong lines.
    LikeReply3 days ago
  • JdeLorenzo08
    Wow, beautifully written and very deep. Nice work I really enjoyed reading your piece.
    LikeReply8 days ago
  • lauriesero4480
    Woah! This is the most descriptive War time poetry I've ever read. It hit home because my Dad was a Vietnam veteran.
    LikeReply8 days ago
  • amandak
    Very powerful, great write
    LikeReply 110 days ago
  • talygarza
    This anti war poem is heartbreaking, no words to express the enormous pain wars bring although this human tendency to violence and self destruction continues between groups or nations. This poem is indicative of the tragedy behind every single life that ends in wars. 
    LikeReply 116 days ago
  • Benny11
    Great poem, of how politicians lead us to senseless war, young people conscripted without enough training meet their doom
    Great work of art and campaign for lasting peace ✌
    LikeReply17 days ago
  • crucifiedinhim2
    I've fought in war. I think back to the kid I was 30 years ago, and the nightmares I've fought with over and over again. My deepest wish, my prayer, is that none ever have to stand in such fields again. Sadly human nature being what it is, we will. I can only pray we honor those who must fight for the follies of our keaders 
    LikeReply22 days ago
  • LatinX
    I have no words to express how profound this poem truly is.
    LikeReply 123 days ago
  • rosyjane007
    brave and courage of truth where the soldiers past forgot to be shown, stand dignified for what soldiers do in the past will reflects in the words that all innocent lives tell when soldiers are around or not. 
    LikeReply24 days ago
  • donka_k
    Deep powerful, gripping words. A tribute to the Unknown Soldier and his mission of peace ,An outstanding poem of stark reality told with love.
    LikeReply24 days ago
  • jn.selvadurai
    Outstanding construction. The message of peace and the futility of war conveyed through the dead unknown soldier.
    LikeReply24 days ago
  • ifumiehigiator
    Beautiful and comprehensive. It's a campaign for peace.
    LikeReply25 days ago
  • Philipo
    First class work. Deserves the win. Congrats
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • hairartmk2000
    I must say I did not expect such a heartfelt poem as if I was the soldier�
    Thank you for such a respectful hit to the heart and hopefully this will make an impact on our world
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • AIDA
    Wow, what a powerful and thought-provoking poem! "The Unknown Soldier" has beautifully captured the voice of a fallen soldier who did not die a hero in the traditional sense, but whose story is just as important to remember. The vivid imagery and emotional depth of the poem really touch the reader's heart.

    The poet has done a great job in highlighting the hypocrisy and commercialization of war remembrance, while also calling for a true peace and reconciliation. The message of honoring all soldiers, regardless of which side they fought on, is a crucial one that often gets overlooked.

    To make the poem even more impactful, I would suggest adding some specific examples or anecdotes to further illustrate the soldier's story and experiences. This could help to create an even stronger connection with the reader and evoke more empathy and understanding.

    Overall, this poem is a moving tribute to all those who have sacrificed their lives in war, and a powerful call for peace and remembrance. It is a reminder to honor the unknown soldiers who have bravely served their countries, and to strive for a world where war is no longer necessary. Well done!
    LikeReply 11 month ago
  • Symmetry60
    Excellent work indeed. Congrats on top honors.
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • susan.brumel
    Congratulations! Great work.
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • BACH54
    Well written and tells a moving story that only the unknown soldier has experienced. Amidst the annual pomp and ceremony to honor these “unknown souls”
    one must wonder if it will ever be enough for the sacrifice they have made. The poet, through the eyes of the unknown soldier from the grave communicates this with empathy. 
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • xmasday65
    This poem carries the theme very well. It continues to make colorful and creative rhythms until it wraps up nicely in the end. Very nicely done.
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • wesley82
    The writer, makes the average reader relate to the poem. The poem is also well written.
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • iamrandell
    One is immediately captured and transported to the grave of the soldier as his story and observations are rhythmically portrayed in meaningful rhyme. Totally absorbing and easy to follow. Delightfull!
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • dutchcooki
    It spoke the truth, and I come from a military family. There is no blame, just a universal reality of how life and war go on despite our vow to remember and learn.

    I felt the words.
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • Jean_Bean
    I was touched reading this poem. Had friend's and a brother in kaw who fougbt in war's. Enjoyed this touching writing.
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • Chana
    Beautiful point.
    LikeReply1 month ago
  • BasNoBeathaWriter
    Powerful, poignant, timely, and I can't get over how great the "band of brothers" and "band of others" couplet is. Well done!
    LikeReply1 month ago


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