This is a very strange and scary poem. Not for the very impressionable, or those prone to nightmares. Yet, since I read it....I have been captivated by the utter desperation and hopelessness of it. And the undertone of seething anger and sarcasm in the last couplet.
It tells of life in the "meat grinder" of the 1st World War. It tells of the futility of governments sending their citizenry out to die for the fatherland, because of handshakes, paper treaties, and "national interests" of alliances and nations across continents.
At least America had an excuse...but no... our men died as well.
And the Europeans who had been lapping up our products and begging us for help (oh! the war would end in a stalemate without us!) after giving 10 million men a "Finally!" for a welcome, left our men to die of disease and be peacekeepers afterwards while they ferried their men home to safety as fast as their dinghys could carry them.
But did we learn? Americans are fools. Oh no...in 30 years we made the same dumb mistake again....and again in less than 10 years after that, and then in another 10 years, and since then it has been war, after skirmish, after attack, after another.
Fool me one, shame on you, fool me twice, three times, and again and again....I deserved it!
War is the Health of the State.