Ian McFarlane writes to draw my attention to the following poem entiled 'A Soldier's Kiss':
Only a dying horse! pull off the gear,
And slip the needless bit from frothing jaws,
Drag it aside there, leaving the road way clear,
The battery thunders on with scarce a pause.
Prone by the shell-swept highway there it lies
With quivering limbs, as fast the life-tide fails,
Dark films are closing o'er the faithful eyes
That mutely plead for aid where none avails.
Onward the battery rolls, but one there speeds
Needlessly of comrades voice or bursting shell,
Back to the wounded friend who lonely bleeds
Beside the stony highway where he fell.
Only a dying horse! he swiftly kneels,
Lifts the limp head and hears the shivering sigh
Kisses his friend, while down his cheek there steals
Sweet pity's tear, "Goodbye old man, Goodbye".
No honours wait him, medal, badge or star,
Though scarce could war a kindlier deed unfold;
He bears within his breast, more precious far
Beyond the gift of kings, a heart of gold.
Ian writes that the poem was copied out by his grandfather, Jack May, in Ypres 1916, to reflect an occasion when his horse was shot from underneath him near Arras. Please see the photograph of the extract Jack made which was kept by Ian's grandmother. Jack's copy also featured later in 1918, in a local parish newspaper (see PDF attachment). (Kimpton Down is near Andover in Hampshire.)