For Me

Work like a machine, he said,
And left and right
All through the night
He worked to save their lives.

His hands were torn,
His feet were lead,
His eyes and mouth were dry,
Yet through that blank wall
On he went,
Striking, shoveling,
Almost spent,
To reach the other side.

His fellow workers
Lay on back
With many a broken limb.
The tunnel’s fall
Had trapped them all,
And it was up to him—
To work, to strive,
To keep alive,
Though air was getting thin.

He felt their moans,
He heard their groans
(Or was it him he heard?),
As on he went,
Half live, half spent,
Each swing of pick now blurred.

Oh, gather again
Together again
All your strength and will;
All you’ve got
Must give up—NOT!
I will, I must, I can!

Another swing—
Is it the last?
If I’d just one more breath!
But there! Some air!
A chink of light!
He’s done it! Beaten death!

There is no crowd
Outside the wall;
They’re at the other end.
He hears the wails
Of wives and friends,
But has no strength to call.

He sits and laughs
A silent laugh,
He is so glad to be.
For them I gave
A spirit brave,
But me I gave for me.

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