WWII Prose and Poetry

I Met Old Major Shreeve Today

Former members of the 38th and all who have survived time and reached retirement will relate to this poem.


Well, sir, I met Jim Shreeve today.
His hair is getting thin and grey,
His eyelids have began to droop,
His shoulders have a little stoop;

I hardly would have known him. No,
But we were young then long ago.
Let's see. It's forty years and more
Since we stood in the trailer door,

Why then Jim Shreeve was young and plump.
He could hit a slit trench first and jump,
And stand all kinds of heat and cold--
But, say, Jim Shreeve is getting old!

Why look! When I walked up to him
And grabbed his hand with, "Hello Jim!"--
He looked at me a long,long while
Ans smiled a half embarrassed smile

And said, as puzzeled as could be:
"Well, you have the best of me".

Now who'd have thought the years since then--
Since we were hard, and tanned young men--
Could ever make such striking change!
No, honestly, Jim Shreeve looked strange.

He has deep wrinkles in his cheeks
And his voice shakes-like when he speaks!

His memory is bad, I know.
I had to talk an hour or so
Reminding him of when we'd meet
How I'd salute in all the heat.

And Sgt. Park that we both knew.
And still he said: "Idon't place you".

Poor Jim! He's getting old, thats all.
He really used to be on the ball.
Without crowsfeet around his eyes
Or bald head to give him disguise,

It almost moves a man to tears
To see how friends change with the years.

And queerest of it all is, Jim
Said I looked just as strange to him,
Said I was getting rather gray
And walked in a stoop shouldered way.

It's odd how age makes Jim Shreeves see
All all other folks the same as he!