“Happy the man who stays awake in the dark”

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Happy the man who stays awake in the dark
alone with his thoughts as useful as bridges
built to be crossed by armies and then destroyed
by boys in drab green uniforms whose whole life
took place on a single night in a foxhole
in the coldest December on record and the men
in the platoon knew that only three of the five
would survive the night but which three
nobody knew and so each took turns saying
what he would do for his fallen comrades
if he should be the one favored by fortune
who returns to his native town more dear to him
than the marble of monuments, majesty of courts,
Doric temples in adoration of the golden calf.

from Ithaca by David Lehman