Stay with Me, God

Original Text: 
Poems from the Desert: Verses by Members of the Eighth Army, foreword by General Sir Bernard Montgomery (London: George G. Harrap, May 1944): 45-46 (entitled "A Soldier -- His Prayer").
2The night is cold: my little spark
3Of courage dies. The night is long;
4Be with me, God, and make me strong.
5I love a game. I love a fight.
6I hate the dark; I love the light.
7I love my child; I love my wife.
8I am no coward. I love Life,
9Life with its change of mood and shade.
10I want to live. I'm not afraid,
11But me and mine are hard to part;
12Oh, unknown God, lift up my heart.
14And saved Your Servants. All your work
15Is wonderful, dear God. You strode
16Before us down that dreadful road,
17We were alone, and hope had fled;
18We loved our country and our dead,
19And could not shame them; so we stayed
20The course, and were not much afraid.
21Dear God, that nightmare road! And then
22That sea! We got there -- we were men.
23My eyes were blind, my feet were torn,
24My soul sang like a bird at dawn!
25I knew that death is but a door.
26I knew what we were fighting for:
27Peace for the kids, our brothers freed,
28A kinder world, a cleaner breed.
29I'm but the son my mother bore,
30A simple man, and nothing more.
31But -- God of strength and gentleness,
32Be pleased to make me nothing less.
33Help me, O God, when Death is near
34To mock the haggard face of fear,
35That when I fall -- if fall I must --
36My soul may triumph in the Dust.

Notes

1] "Written on a scrap of paper, it fluttered into the hands of a soldier sheltering in a slit trench, during the battle of El Agheila." (P. 5) This took place in January 1942, when General Rommel of the Panzer Army in Africa set out from his base at El Agheila in Libya and forced the British army into a major retreat. Back to Line
13] Dunkirk: on June 3-4, 1940, the British evacuated a third of a million English and French soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France. Nearly 900 vessels ferried them across the English Channel to safety, away from the advancing German armies. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1944
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2002
Rhyme: