A day late for Armistice Day, this is Housman's one great poem, Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries. It's said to be inspired by the ‘Old Contemptibles’, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) of 1914— the professional British army that existed before Kitchener’s ‘New Army’ of volunteers and then conscription.
These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth’s foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.
Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth’s foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.
I don't think my grandfather, who fought in the First World War, read Housman. William Le Queux was more his thing. But Housman's A Shropshire Lad was carried in the pockets of a lot of our soldiers in the trenches.
Let's hope there are no more wars in Europe, though I think one is being waged even now.