Riddle: A Field Hospital

A Field Hospital

by Randall Jarrell, 1947

He stirs, beginning to awake.
A kind of ache
Of knowing troubles his blind warmth; he moans,
And the high hammering drone
Of the first crossing fighters shakes
His sleep to pieces, rakes
The darkness with its skidding bursts, is done.
All that he has known

Floods in upon him; but he dreads
The crooked thread
Of fire upon the darkness: “The great drake
Flutters to the icy lake—
The shotguns stammer in my head.
I lie in my own bed,”
He whispers, “dreaming”; and he thinks to wake.
The old mistake.

A cot creaks; and he hears the groan
He thinks his own—
And groans, and turns his stitched, blind, bandaged head
Up to the tent-flap, red
With dawn. A voice says, “Yes, this one”;
His arm stings; then, alone,
He neither knows, remembers—but instead
Sleeps, comforted.


  1. First, identify the rhyme scheme. AABB? ABABCC?
  2. Then say which line(s) break the rule of the meter.


About davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels. www.davidbdale.wordpress.com
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