Text of the Poem

‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General said  
When we met him last week on our way to the line.  
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,  
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.  
‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

But he did for them both by his plan of attack.


  1. "The General" is written in free verse, meaning it does not adhere to a specific meter or rhyme scheme. The lack of a strict meter or rhyme scheme also mirrors the chaos and unpredictability of war.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The speaker juxtaposes the general's smile and the soldiers' deaths to emphasize the cost of incompetent leadership.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The contrast between the general's apparent cheerfulness and the grim reality of war creates irony, highlighting the disconnect between military leadership and the soldiers who bear the brunt of their decisions.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. The soldiers' informal speech adds authenticity to the poem and emphasizes their shared experiences and camaraderie.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor