"Hello, Soldier!" Khaki Verse
by Edward Dyson
Many of these verse were originally printed in the "Bulletin," others in "Punch," "The Leader" and Melbourne "Herald." Some few are now published for the first time.
The paper famine leaving me no option but to print on peculiar paper, not wholly prohibitive or to defer the publication of my verses for an unknown period, the natural longing of a parent to parade his "well be- gotten" prevails. If my book is unusual and bizarre from a craftman's point of view, I plead the unusual times and extraordinary conditions. Of these times and conditions. I hope "Hello Soldier" is in some measure characteriastic.—Edward Dyson.
AUSTRALIA, my native land, A stirring whisper in your ear— 'Tis time for you to understand Your rating now is A1, dear. You've done some rousing things of late. That lift you from the simple state In which you chose to vegetate.
The persons so superior, Whose patronage no more endures, Now have to fire a salvo for The glory that is fairly yours. At length you need no sort of crutch, You stand alone, you're voted "much"— Get busy and behave as such.
No man from Oskosh, or from Hull, Or any other chosen place Can rise with a distended skull, And cast aspersions in your face. You're given all the world to know Your proper standing as a foe, And hats are off, and rightly so.
You furnished heroes for the fray, Your sterling merit's widely blown To all men's satisfaction say, Now have you proved it to your own? Now have you strength to stand and shine In your own light and say, "Divine The thing is that I do. It's mine!"
The cannon's stroke throws customs down The black and bottomless abyss, And quaking are the gilded crown And palsied feet of prejudice. The guns have killed, but it is true They bring to life things good and new. God grant they have awakened you!
My ears are greedy for the toast Of confidence before our guest, The loyal song, the manly boast Your splendid faith to manifest. In works of art and livelihood Shirk not the creed, "What's ours is good," Dread not to have it understood.
Australia, lift your royal brow, And have the courage of our pride, Audacity becomes you now, Be splendidly self-satisfied, No land from lowliness and dearth Has won to eminence on earth That was not conscious of its worth.
AUSTRALIA BILLY KHAKI AS THE TROOPS WENT THROUGH MARSHAL NEIGH V.C. IN HOSPITAL SISTER ANN BRICKS MUD MICKIE MOLLYNOO JAM WEEPING WILLIE BILLJIM THE CRUSADERS PEACE, BLESSED PEACE THE HAPPY GARDENERS THE GERM JOEY'S JOB THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND ME HOW HERMAN WON THE CROSS WHEN TOMMY CAME MARCHING HOME HELLO, SOLDIER! THE MORALIST REPAIRED OUT OF KHAKI THE SINGLE-HANDED TEAM BATTLE PASSES THE LETTERS OF THE DEAD BULLETS UNREDEEMED THE LIVING PICTURE THE IMMORTAL STRAIN THE UNBORN THE COMMON MEN THE CHURCH BELLS THE YOUNG LIEUTENANT THE ONE AT HOME THE HAPLESS ARMY
MARCHING somewhat out of order when the band is cock-a-hoop, There's a lilting kind of magic in the swagger of the troop, Swinging all aboard the steamer with her nose toward the sea. What is calling, Billy Khaki, that you're foot- ing it so free?
Though his lines are none too level, And he lacks a bit of style. And he's swanking like the devil Where the women wave and smile, He will answer with a rifle Trim and true from stock to bore, Where the comrades crouch and stifle In the reeking pit of war.
What is calling, Billy Khaki? There is thunder down the sky, And the merry magpie bugle splits the morn- ing with its cry, While your feet are beating rhythms up the dusty hills and down, And the drums are all a-talking in the hollow of the town.
Billy Khaki, is't the splendor of the song the kiddies sing, Or the whipping of the flags aloft that sets your heart a-swing? Is't the cheering like a paean of the toss- ing, teeming crowds, Or the boom of distant cannon flatly bumping on the clouds ?
What's calling, calling, Billy? 'Tis the rattle far away Of the cavalry at gallop and artillery in play; 'Tis the great gun's fierce concussion, and the smell of seven hells When the long ranks go to pieces in the sneezing of the shells.
But your eyes are laughing, Billy, and a ribald song you sing, While the old men sit and tell us war it is a ghastly thing, When the swift machines are busy and the grim, squat fortress nocks At your bolts as vain as eggs of gulls that spatter on the rocks.
When the horses sweep upon you to complete a sudden rout, Or in fire and smoke and fury some brave regiment goes out, War is cruel, Bill, and ugly. But full well you know the rest, Yet your heart is for the battle, and your face is to the west.
For if war is beastly, Billy, you can picture something worse— There's the wrecking of an empire, and its broken people's curse; There are nations reft of freedom, and of hope and kindly mirth, And the shadow of an evil black upon the bitter earth.
So we know what's calling, Billy. 'Tis the spirit of our race, And its stir is in your pulses, and its light is on your face As you march with clipping boot-heels through the piping, howling town To uphold the land we live in, and to pull a tyrant down.
Thou his lines are none too level, And he's not a whale for style, And he's swanking like the devil When the women wave and smile He will answer with a rifle, Trim and true from stuck to bore, When the comrades sit and stifle In the smoking pit of war.
AS THE TROOP WENT THROUGH
I HEARD this day, as I may no more, The world's heart throb at my workshop door. The sun was keen, and the day was still; The township drowsed in, a haze of heat. A stir far off on the sleepy hill, The measured beat of their buoyant feet, And the lilt and thrum Of a little drum, The song they sang in a cadence low, The piping note of a piccolo.
The township woke, and the doors flew wide; The women trotted their boys beside. Across the bridge on a single heel The soldiers came in a golden glow, With throb of song and the chink of steel, The gallant crow of the piccolo. Good and brown they were, And their arms swung bare. Their fine young faces revived in me A boyhood's vision of chivalry.
The lean, hard regiment tramping down, Bushies, miners and boys from town. From 'mid the watchers the road along One fell in line with the khaki men. He took the stride, and he caught their song, And Steve went then, and Meneer, and Ben, Long Dave McCree, And the Weavers three, All whisked away by the "Come! Come! Come!" The lusty surge of the vaunting drum.
I swore a prayer for each soldier lad. He was the son that might have had; The tall, bold boy who was never mine, All brave with dust that the eyes laughed through, His shoulders square, and his chin in line, Was marching too with the gallant few. Passed the muffled beat Of their swanking feet, The swell of drum, the exulting crow, The wild-bird note of the piccolo.
They dipped away in the listless trees; A mother wept on her beaded knees For sons gone out to the long war's end; But more than mother or man wept I Who had no son in the world to send. The hour lagged by, and drifting high Came the fitful hum Of the little drum, And faint, but still with an ardent flow, The pibroch, call of the piccolo.
MARSHAL NEIGH, V.C.
HE came from tumbled country past the humps of Buffalo Where the snow sits on the mountain 'n' the Summer aches below. He'd a silly name like Archie. Squattin' sullen on the ship, He knew nex' to holy nothin' through the gor- forsaken trip.
No thoughts he had of women, no refreshin' talk of beer; If he'd battled, loved, or suffered vital facts did not appear; But the parsons and the poets couldn't teach him to discourse When it come to pokin' guyver at a pore, deluded horse.
If nags got sour 'n' kicked agin the rules of things at sea, Artie argued matters with 'em, 'n' he'd kid 'em up a tree. "Here's a pony got hystericks. Pipe the word for Privit Rowe," The Sargint yapped, 'n' all the ship came cluckin' to the show.
He'd chat him confidential, 'n' he'd pet 'n' paw the moke; He'd tickle him, 'n' flatter him, 'n' try him with a joke; 'N' presently that neddy sobers up, 'n' sez "Ive course, Since you puts it that way, cobber, I will be a better horse."
There was one pertickler whaler, known aboard ez Marshal Neigh, Whose monkey tricks with Privit Rowe was better than a play. He'd done stunts in someone's circus, 'n' he loved a merry bout, Whirlin' in to bust his boiler, or to kick the bottom out.
Rowe he sez: "Well, there's an idjit! Oh, yes, let her whiz, you beauty! Where's yer 'orse sense, little feller? Where's yer bloomin' sense iv duty? Well, you orter serve yer country!" Then there'd come a painful hush, 'N' that nag would drop his head-piece, 'n', so 'elp me cat, he'd blush.
We was heaped ashore be Suez, rifle, horse, 'n' man, 'n' tent, Where the land is sand, the water, 'n' the gory firmament. We had intervals iv longin', we had sweaty spells of work In the ash-pit iv Gehenner, dumbly waitin' fer the Turk.
We goes driftin' on the desert, nothin' doin', nothin' said, Till we get to think we're nowhere, 'n' arf fancy we are dead, 'N' the only 'uman interest on the red hori- zon's brim Is Marshal Neigh's queer faney fer the lad that straddles him.
Plain-livin's nearly, bored us stiff. The Major calls on Rowe To devise an entertainment. What his charger doesn't know Isn't in the regulations. Him 'n' Rowe is brothers met, 'N' that horse's sense iv humor is the oddest fancy yet.
But the Turk arrives one mornin' on the outer edge iv space. From back iv things his guns is floppin' kegs about the place, 'N' Privit Artie Rowe along with others iv the force Goes pig-rootin' inter battle, holdin' converse with his horse.
Little Abdul's quite a fighter, 'n' he mixes it with skill; But the Anzacs have him snouted,, 'n', oh, ma, he's feelin' ill. They wake the all-fired desert, 'n' the land for ever dead Is alive 'n' fairly creepin', and the skies are droppin' lead.
When they've got the Ot'man goin', little gaudy hunts begin. It fer us to chiv His Trousers. 'n' to round the stragglers in. Cuttin' closest to the raw, 'n' swearin' lovin' all the way, Is Artie from Molinga on his neddy, Marshal Neigh.
We're pursuin' sundry camels turkey-trottin' anyhow With the carriage iv an emu 'n' the action iv a cow, When a sand dune busts, 'n' belches arf a million iv the foe. They uncork a blanky batt'ry, 'n' it's, Allah, let her go!
We're not stayin' dinner, thank you. Lie along yer horse 'n' yell, While the bullets pip yer britches 'n' you sniff the flue of Hell. Here it is that Artie takes it good 'n' solid in the crust, He dives from out the saddle, 'n' is swallered in the dust.
I got through 'n' saw them pointin' where the Marshal faced the band. He was goin' where we came from, sniffin' bodies in the sand. Till he found Rowe snugglin' under, took him where his pants was slack, 'N' be all the Asiatic gods, he brought his soldier back!
With a bullet in his buttock, 'n' a drill hole in his ear, He dumped Artie down among us. Square 'n' all, how did we cheer! There's no medals struck fer neddies, but we rule there orter be, 'N' the pride iv all the Light Horse is old Marshal Neigh, V.C.
IT is thirty moons since I slung me hook From the job at the hay and corn, Took me solemn oath, 'n' I straight forsook All the ways of life, dinkum ways 'n' crook, 'N' the things on which it was good to look Since the day when a bloke was born.
I was give a gun, 'n' a bay'net bright, 'N' a 'ell of a swag iv work, N' I dipped my lid to the big pub light, To the ole push cobbers I give "Good-night!" Slipped a kiss to 'er, 'n' I wings me flight For a date with the demon Turk.
Ez we pricked our heel to the skitin' drum. Square 'n' all, I was gone a mile. With a perky air, 'n' a 'eart ez glum Ez a long-dead cod, I was blind 'n' dumb, Holdin' do the tear that was bound to come At a word or a friendly smile.
Now I've seen it all, I may come out dead, But I 'ope never more a fool. I have scorched, 'n' thirsted, 'n' froze, 'n' bled, 'N' bin taught the use of the human head, For when all is done 'n' when all is said, War's a wonderful sort of school.
I've bin taught to get 'em 'n' never fret, 'N' to sleep without dreamin' when We have swarmed a slope with the red rain wet; I 'ave learned a pile, 'n' I'm learnin' yet; But the thing I've learned that I won't forget Is a way of not judgin' men.
We was shot down there in a dirty place— From the mansions 'n' huts we'd come— 'N' of all the welter the 'ardest case Was a little swine with a dimpled face, Who a year ago was dispensin' lace In a Carlton em-por-ee-um.
In the moochin' days of me giddy youth, When I kidded meself a treat, I'd have pass him one ez a gooey. 'Strewth On the track iv Huns, he's a eight-day sleuth, 'N' at tearin' into 'em nail 'n' tooth He's got Julius Caesar beat!
I ain't proud with him ; 'n' I'm modest, too, When dividin' a can of swill With a Algy boy from the wilds iv Kew. Cos I do not know what the cow will do When a Fritzy offers to sock me through; 'N' it's good to be livin' still.
There you are, you see! Oh! it makes you sore, When a bloke you despised at 'ome In them pifflin' days of the years before Takes a odds-on chance with the God of War, 'N' he tows you out with his left lung tore, 'N' a crack in his bleedin' dome!
'Twas a lad called Hugh done ez much for me. (He has curls 'n' he's fair 'n' slim). Well, I mind the days in the Port when we Puts it over Hugh coz we don't agree With his tone 'n' style, 'n' my foot was free When the push made a hack of him.
Now he's paid me back. I had struck a snag, And must creep through the battle spume All a flamin' age, with a grinnin' jag In me thigh, for water, or jest a fag. Like a crippled snake I was forced to drag Shattered flesh till the crack of doom.
When they saw me he was the one who came. 'N' he give me a raffish grin 'N' a swig. I wasn't so bad that shame Didn't get me then, for the lad was lame. They had passed him his, but his 'art was game. 'N' he coughed ez he brought me in.
I have tackled God on me bended knees, So He'll save him alive 'n' whole, For the sake of one who he thinks he sees When the Nurse's hands bring a kind of ease; And I thank God, too, for the things like these That have give me a sort of soul.
There are Percies, Algies, 'n' Claudes I've met Who could take it 'n' come agen, While the bullets flew in a screamin' jet. What in pain, 'n' death, and in mire 'n' sweat I 'ave learned from them that I won't forget Is a way of not judgin' men.
I'M lyin' in a narrow bed, 'N' starin' at a wall. Where all is white my plastered head Is whitest of it all. My life is jist a whitewashed blank, With flamin' spurts of pain. I dunno who I've got to thank, I've p'raps been trod on by a tank, Or caught out in the rain When skies were peltin' fish-plates, bricks 'n' lengths of bullock-chain.
I'm lyin' here, a sulky swine, 'N' hatin' of the bloke Who's in the doss right next to mine With 'arf his girders broke. He never done no 'arm t me, 'N' he's pertickler ill; But I have got him snouted, see, 'N' all old earth beside but she Come with the chemist's swill, 'N' puts a kind, soft 'and on mine, 'n' all my nark is still.
She ain't a beaut, she's thirty two, She scales eleven stone; But, 'struth, I didn't think it true There was such women grown! She's nurse 'n' sister, mum 'n' dad, 'N' all that straight 'n' fine In every girl I ever had. When Gabr'el comes, 'n' all the glad Young saints are tipped the sign, You'll see this donah take her place, first angel in the line!
She's sweet 'n' cool, her touch is dew— Wet lilies on yer brow. (Jist 'ark et me what never knew Of lilies up to now). She fits your case in 'arf a wink, 'N' knows how, why, 'n' where. If you are five days gone in drink, N' hoverin' on perdition's brink, It is her brother there. God how pain will take a man, and He has spoke with her!
I dunno if she ever sleeps Ten minutes at a stretch. A dozen times a night she creeps To soothe a screamin' wretch Who has a tiger-headed Hun A-gnawin' at his chest. 'N' when the long, 'ard flght is won, 'N' he is still 'n' nearly done, She smiles down on his rest, 'N' minds me of a mother with a baby at her breast.
The curly kid we cuddled when There was no splendid row (It seemed a little matter then, But feels so wondrous now). It's part of her. She's Joan iv Ark, Flo Nightingale, all fair 'N' dinkum dames who've made their mark If she comes tip-toe in the dark, We blighters feel her there. The whole pack perks up like a bird, 'n' sorter takes the air.
She chats you in a 'Ighland botch; But if our Sis saw fit To pitch Hindoo instead of Scotch I'd get the hang of it, Because her heart it is that talks What now is plain to me. At war where bloody murder stalks, 'N' Nick his hottest samples hawks. I have been given to see What simple human kindness is, what brotherhood may be.
DEAR Ned, I now take up my pen to write you these few lines, And hopin' how they find you fit. Gorbli', it seems an age Since Jumbo ducked the Port, 'n' drilled 'n' polished to the nines, He walked his pork on Collins like a hero off the stage, Then hiked a rifle 'cross the sea this bleedin' war to wage.
The things what's 'appened lately calls to Jumbo's mind that day Our push took on the Peewee pack, 'n' belted out their lard, With twenty cops to top it off. But now I'm stowed away, A bullet in me gizzard where I took it good and hard, A-dealin'-stoush 'n' mullock to the Prussian flamin' Guard.
At Bullcoor mortal charnce had dumped a mutton-truck of us From good ole Port ker-flummox where we didn't orter be, All in a 'elpless hole-the Pug, Bill Carkeek, Son, 'n' Gus, Don, Steve, 'n' Jack, 'n' seven more, 'n', as it 'appens, me, With nothin' in since breakfast, 'n' a week to go for tea.
Worked loose from Caddy's bunch, we went it gay until we found We'd took to 'arf the ragin' German Hempire on our own. Then down we went so 'umble, with our noses in the ground, Takin' cover in the rubble. If a German head was shown It was fare-the-well to Herman with a bullet through the bone.
We slogged the cows remorseless, 'n' they laid for us a treat. We held that stinkin' cellar, though, 'n' when the day was done Son pussied on his bingie where a Maxie trim 'n' neat Had spit out loaded lightnin', and he slugged a tubby Hun, Then choked a Fritzie with his dukes, 'n' pinched the sooner's gun!
We rigged her on her knuckle-bones. Cri', how she lapped 'em up! We hosed 'em out with livin' lead. That was the second day. Me left eye I'd 'ave give for jest a bubble in a cup, Three fingers I'd 'ave parted for a bone I've flung away; But the butcher wasn't callin', 'n' the fountain didn't play.
T'was rotten mozzle, Neddo. We had blown out ever clip, 'N' 'blooed the hammunition for the little box of tricks. Each took a batten in his fist. Sez Billy "Let 'er rip!" But Son he claws his stubble. Sez—he: "Hold a brace of ticks." Then "Yow!" he pipes 'n' "Strewth!" he sez, "it's bricks, you blighters, bricks!"
There's more than 'arf a million spilt where somethin' hit a pub; We creeps among 'n' sorts 'em, stack afore, 'n' stack behind; The Hun is comin' at us with his napper like a tub— You couldn't 'ope to miss it, pickled, par- alysed, 'n' blind. Sez Sonny: "Lay 'em open! Give 'em blotches on the rind!"
Then bricks was flyin' in the wind. Mine dinted Otto's chin; Ole Nosey got his brother, which he never more will roam. When Ulrich stopped a Port bookay he rolled his alley in. Their fire was somethin' fierce. Poor Son was blowin' blood 'n' foam, "Fill up," he coughs, "'n' plug 'em! S'elp me Gord, we're goin' 'ome!"
With bricks we drove right at 'em 'n' we wanged 'em best we could. 'Twas either bed 'n' breakfast or a scribble and a wreath. Haynes bust a Prussian's almond, took the bay'net where he stood, Then heaved his last 'arf-Brunswick, split the demon's grinnin' teeth, And Son went down in glory, with a German underneath!
We'd started out with gibbers in our clobber and our 'ats. They gave us floatin' lead enough to stop an army cor. We yelled like fiends, 'n' countered with a lovely flight of bats, Then rushed in close formation, heavin' cot- tages, n' tore Through blinded, bleedin' Bosches, 'n' lor love yeh, it was war!
We came peltin', headfirst, 'elpless, in a drain among a lot Of dirty, damned old Tommies (Gord! The best that ever blew!) Eight left of us, all punctured, each man holdin' what he'd got. Me wild, a rat hole in me lung, but in me mauley, too, A bull-nosed brick with whiskers where no whiskers ever grew.
There's nothin' doin' now. I wear me blan- kets like a toff. The way this fat nurse pets me, strewth, it's well to be so sick, A-dreamin' of our contract 'n' the way we pulled it off. I reckon Haig is phonin' Hughes: "Hullo, there, Billy. Quick— A dozen of the pushes and a thousan' tons of brick!"
THIS war's a waste of slurry, and its at- mosphere is mud, All is bog from here to sunset. Wadin' through We're the victims of a thicker sort of universal flood, With discomforts that old Noah never knew.
We have dubbed our trench The Cecil. There's a brass-plate and a dome, And a quagmire where the doormat used to be, If you're calling, second Tuesday is our reg'- lar day at home, So delighted if you'll toddle in to tea!
There is mud along the corridors enough to bog a cow; In the air there hangs a musty kind of woof; There's a frog-pond in the parlour, and the kitchen is a slough. She has neither doors nor windows, nor a roof.
When they post our bald somnambulist as missing from his flat We take soundings for the digger with a prop. By the day the board is gratis, by the week it's half of that; For the season there's a corresponding drop.
Opening off the spacious hallway is my natty little suite, A commodious and accessible abode. By judicious disposition, with exclusion of my feet, There is sleeping room for Oliver the toad.
Though the ventilation's gusty, and in gobs the ceiling falls— Which with oral respiration disagrees— Though there comes a certain quantity of seepage from the walls, There are some I knew in diggings worse than these.
On my right is Cobber Carkeek. There's a spring above his head, And his mattress is a special kind of clay. He's a most punctilious bloke about the fashion of his bed, And he makes it with a shovel every day.
Man is dust. If so, the Cobber has been puddled up a treat. On domestic sanitation he's a toff, For he lights a fire on Sunday, bakes his sur- face in the heat, Then he takes a little maul, and cracks it off.
After hanging out a winter in this Cimmerian hole We're forgetting sheets, and baths, and tidy skins. In the dark and deadly calm last night they took us on patrol. Seven, little fellows, thinking of their sins.
It was ours like blinded snails to prowl the soggy, slimy night, With a feeler pricking out at every pore For the death that stalks in darkness, or the blinking stab of light, And the other trifling matters that are war.
That's the stuff to get your liver, that's the acid on a man, For it tries his hones, and seeks his marrow throngh. You have got the thought to comfort you that life is but a span, If Fritz squirts his loathly limelight over you.
We got back again at daybreak. Cobber ducked to doss and said, From the soft, embracing mud: "No more I'll roam. "Oh, thank Heaven, blokes," he murmured, "for the comforts of a bed! Gorstruth, but ain't it good to have a home!"
A MILE-LONG panto dragon ploddin' 'opeless all the day, Stuffed out with kits, 'n' spiked with rifles, steamin' in its sweat, A-heavin' down the misty road, club-footed through the clay, By waggons bogged 'n' buckin' guns, the wildest welter yet, Like 'arf creation's tenants shiftin' early in the wet.
We're marchin' out, we dunno where, to meet we dunno who; But here we lights eventual, 'n' sighs 'n' slips the kit, 'N', 'struth, the first to take us on is Mickie Mollynoo! A copper of the Port he was, when 'istory was writ. Sez I : "We're sent to face the foe, 'n', selp me, this is It."
A shine John. Hop is Mollynoo. A mix-up with the push Is all his joy. One evenin' when his baton's flyin' free I takes a baby brick, 'n' drives it hard agin the cush, 'N' Privit Mick is scattered out fer all the world to see, But not afore indelible he's put his mark on me.
I got the signs Masonic all inlaid along me lug Where Molly, P.C., swiped me in them 'appy, careless days. He's sargin' now, a vet'ran; I'm a newchum and a mug, 'N' when he sorter fixes me there's some- thin' in his gaze That's pensive like. "Move on!" sez he. "Keep movin' there!" he says.
If after this I dreams of scraps promiscuous and crool, The mills in Butcher's Alley when the watch is on the wine, Those nights he raided Wylie's shed to break the two-up school, I takes a screw at Molly. With a grin that ain't divine He's toyin' with a scar of old I reckernise as mine.
'N' so I'm layin' for it, 'n' I'm wonderin' how 'n' what. We're signed on with the Germans, 'n' there ain't a vacant date; But sure it's comin' to me, 'n' it's comin' 'ard 'n' 'ot. Me lurk is patient waitin', but I'm trim- min' while I wait A brick to jab or swing with, in a willin' tatertate.
Oh, judge me wonder! There's a scrim that follers on a raid. I'm roughin' it all-in with Hans. He sock me such a bat I slides on somethin' narsty, 'n' me little grave is made; But Molly butts my Hun, 'n' leaves no face beneath his hat, 'N', "'Scuse me, Mister Herr," sez he, "I have a lien on that!"
He helps me under cover, 'n' he 'ands me somethin' wet (I've got a lick or two that leaves me feelin' pretty sick). "Lor love yeh, ole John Hop," sez I, "yiv buried me in debt." "Don't minton ut at all," he sez, 'n' eyes me arf-a-tick. 'N' back there in the trench I sits, 'n' trims another brick.
'Tis all this how a month or more; then Mollynoo sez he: "Come aisy, Jumm, yeh loafer, little hell 'n' all to view. A job most illegant is on, cut out fer you 'n' me. The damnedest, dirtiest fighter on the Continent is you, Bar one, yeh gougin' thafe, 'n' that is Sargin' Mollynoo!"
I take, with knife 'n' pistol, arf a brick to line me shirt. We creeps a thousan' yards or so to jigger up a gun Which seven Huns is workin' on the Irish like a squirt. We gets across them, me 'n' him. I pots the extra one; Mick chokes his third in comfort, 'n', be'old, the thing is done!
He stands above me, rakin' sweat from off his gleamin' nut. "Me dipper's leakin', Mick," sez I; "me leg is bit in two." Sez he: "Bleed there in comfort, I'm for bringin' help, ye scut." He's back in twenty minutes, with a dillied German crew. "Three'll carry in the gun," sez he, "the rest will carry you."
I dunno how he got 'em, but he made them barrer me. They lugged the gun before him, 'n' he yarded them like geese. Then Mickie s'lutes the Major. "They're in custody," sez he, "Fer conduc' calculated to provoke a breach iv peace, A-tearin' iv me uniform, 'n' 'saultin' the po-lice."
Then down he dumped. His wounds would make a 'arf a column list. When hack to front I chucks me bricks 'n' smiles the best I can. He grins at me: "Yer right," sez he, "Hold out yer bla'-guard fist, I couldn't fight yeh, blarst yeh, if yeh dinted in me pan. This messin' round wid Germans makes a chicken iv a man."
JAM. (A Hymn of Hate).
WHAT is meant by active service 'Ere where sin is leakin' loose, 'N' the oldest 'and's as nervis As a dog-bedevilled goose, Has bin writ be every poet What can rhyme it worth a dam, But the 'orror as we know it Is jist jam, jam, JAM! Oh, the 'ymn of 'ate we owe it— Stodgy, splodgy, seepy, soaky, sanguinary jam!
There's the "fearful roar iv battle," What gets underneath yer 'at, Mooin' like a million cattle Each as big as Ararat; There's the red field green 'n' slippy (And I'm cleaner where I am), But the thing that's got me nippy It is jam, jam, JAM! Druv us sour it has, 'n' dippy, Sticky, sicky, slimy, sloppy, stummick-strafin' jam!
Of the mud that's in the trenches Writers make a solemn fuss; For the vermin 'n' the stenches Little ladies pity us; But the yearn that's honest dinkum, 'N' the prayer what ain't a sham Is that Fritz may bust 'n' sink 'em Ships of jam, jam, JAM! For we bolt 'em, chew 'em, drink 'em, Million billion bar'ls of beastly, cloyin' clammy jam!
We are sorry-sick of peaches, 'N' we're full right up of plum, 'N' innards fairly screeches When the tins of apple come. Back of Blighty piled in cases, Jist as close as they can cram, Fillin' all the open spaces, Is the 'jam, jam, JAM! Oh, the woe the soldiers face is, Monday, Sunday, ruddy, muddy, boundless bogs of jam.
WHEY our trooper hit wide water every heart was yearin' back To the little 'ouse at Coogee or a hut at Bar- renjack. She was 'ookin' up to spike the stars, or rootin' in the wave, An' me liver turned a hand spring with each buck the beggar gave. Then we pulls a sick 'n' silly smile 'n' tips a saucy lid, Crackin' hardy. Willie didn't. Willie snivelled like a kid.
At Gallip' the steamer dumped us, 'n' we got right down to work, Whoopin' up the hill splendacious, playin' tiggie with the Turk. When the stinkin' Abdul hit us we curled down upon a stone, 'N' we yelled for greater glory, crackin' 'ardy on our own. Not so Willie. He was cursin', cold ez death 'n' grey ez steel, 'N' the smallest thing that busted made the little blighter squeal.
In the bitter day's that follered, spillin' life be- side the sea, We would fake a spry expression for the things that had to be, Always dressin' up the winder, crackin' 'ardy though we felt Fearful creepy in the whiskers, very cold be- neath the belt. But his jills would sniff 'n' shiver in the mother of a fright, 'N' go blubberin' 'n' quakin' out to waller in the fight.
In the West we liked the weather, 'n' we fat- tened in the mud, Crackin' 'ardy, stewed together, rats an' slurry men 'n' blood. Weepin' Willie wouldn't have it these was pleasin' things abed, 'N' he shuddered in his shimmy if they passed him with the dead. When he cried about his mother, in a gentle voice he'd tell Them as dumb-well didn't like it they could go to sudden 'ell.
There was nothin' sweet for Willie in a rough- up in the wet; But if all things scared him purple, not a thing had stopped him yet. If some chaps was wanted urgent special dirty work to do Willie went in with a shudder, but he alwiz saw it through. Oh, a busy little body was our Willie in a crush! Then he'd cry out in the night about the faces in the slush.
Well they pinked him one fine mornin' with a thumpin' 'unk iv shell; Put it in 'n' all across him. What he was you couldn't tell. I saw him stitched 'n' mended where he whimpered in his bed, 'N' he'd on'y lived because he was afraid to die, he said. Sez he "Struth, they're out there fightin', trimmin' Boshes good 'n' smart, While I'm bedded here 'n' 'elpless. It fair breaks a feller's 'eart."
But he came again last Tuesday '-n' we go it in a breath— "London's big 'n' black 'n' noisy. It would scare a bloke to death." He's away now in the trenches, white 'n' nervous, but, you bet, Playin' lovely 'ands of poker with his busy bay-o-net, 'Fraid of givin' 'n' of takin', 'fraid of gases, 'fraid of guns— But a champion lightweight terror to the gor- forsaken 'Uns!
DOWN to it is Plugger Bill, Lyin' crumpled, white 'n' still. Me 'n' him Chips in when the scrap begins, Carin' nothin' for our skins, Chi-iked as the 'Eavenly Twins- Bill 'n' Jim.
They 'ave outed Bill at last, Slugged me cobber hard 'n' fast. It's a kill. See the purple of his lip 'N' the red 'n' oozy drip! Ends our great ole partnership- Jim 'n' Bill
Mates we was when we was kids; Camp, 'n' ship, 'n' Pyramids, Him 'n' me Hung together, 'n' we tore Up the heights from Helles shore, Bill a long 'arf head afore, Fine to see!
Then it was we took a touch- Simple puncture, nothin' much; But we lay 'N' we stays the count, it seems, In a sorter realm of dreams Where the sun infernal gleams Night 'n' day;
Boilin', fryin' achin', dumb, Waitin' till the stretchers come, Patiently. I hangs on to 'arf a cup. Which I wants ole Bill to sup. Damn if he ain't savin' up His for me!
When they come to lift my head I am softly kiddin' dead, For a game, So's they'll first take on his gills. Over, though, me scheme he spills- Bli'me, this ole take-down Bill's Done the same!
But he isn't kiddin' now, And it knocks me anyhow Seein' him. We was both agreed before, Though it got 'em by the score, Two was goin' to beat this war- But 'n' Jim.
Mate o' mine, yiv stayed it through. Hard luck, Bill-for me 'n' you Hard 'n' grim. They have got me Cobber true, But I'm stickin' tight ez glue.... Bill, there's one who'll plug for two- It is Jim!
WHAT price yer humble, Dicko Smith, in gaudy putties girt, With sand-blight in his optics, and much leaner than he started, Round the 'Oly Land cavorting in three- quarters of a shirt, And imposin' on the natives ez one Dick the Lion 'Earted?
We are drivin' out the infidel, we're hittin' up the Turk, Same ez Richard slung his right across the Saracen invader In old days of which I'm readin'. Now we're gettin' in our work, 'N' what price me nibs, I ask yeh, ez a qualified Crusader!
'Ere I am, a thirsty Templar in the fields of Palestine, Where that hefty little fighter, Bobby Sable, smit the heathen, And where Richard Coor de Lion trimmed the Moslem good 'n' fine, 'N' he took the belt from Saladin, the slickest Dago breathin'.
There's no plume upon me helmet, 'n' no red cross on me chest, 'N' so fur they haven't dressed me in a swanking load of metal; We've no 'Oly Grail I know of, but we do our little best With a jamtin, 'n' a billy, 'n' a battered ole mess kettle.
Quite a lot of guyver missin' from our brand of chivalry; We don't make a pert procession when we're movin' up the forces; We've no pretty, pawin' stallion, 'n' no pennants flowin' free, 'N' no giddy, gaudy bedquilts make a circus of the 'orses.
We 'most always slip the cattle 'n' we cut out all the dog When it fairly comes to buttin' into battle's hectic fever, Goin' forward on our wishbones, with our noses in the bog, 'N' we 'eave a pot iv blazes at the cursed unbeliever.
Fancy-dress them old Crusaders wore, and alwiz kep' a band. What we wear's so near to nothin' that it's often 'ardly proper, And we swings a tank iv iron scrap across the 'Oly Land From a dinkie gun we nipped ashore the other side of Jopper.
We ain't ever very natty, for the climate here is hot; When it isn't liquid mud the dust is thicker than the vermin. Ten to one our bold Noureddin is some wad- dlin' Turkish pot, 'N' the Saladin we're on to is a snortin' red-eyed German.
But be'old the eighth Crusade, 'n' Dicko Smith is in the van, Dicko Coor de Lion from Carlton what could teach King Dick a trifle, For he'd bomb his Royal Jills from out his baked-pertater can, Or he'd pink him full of leakage with a quaint repeatin' rif1e.
We have sunk our claws in Mizpah, and Siloam is in view. By my 'alidom from Agra we will send the Faithful reelin'! Those old-timers botched the contract, but we mean to put it through. Knights Templars from Balmain, the Port, Monaro, Nhill, andl Ealin'.
We 'are wipin' up Jerus'lem; we were ready with a hose Spoutin' lead, a dandy cleaner that you bet you can rely on; And Moss Isaacs, Cohn, and Cohen, Moses, Offelbloom 'n' those Can all pack their bettin' bags, and come right home again to Zion.
PEACE, BLESSED PEACE.
HERE in the flamin' thick of thick of things, With Death across the way, 'n' traps What little Fritz the German flings Explodin' in yer lunch pe'aps, It ain't all glory for a bloke', It ain't all corfee 'ot and stoo, Nor wavin' banners in the smoke, Or practisin' the bay'net stroke— We has our little troubles, too!
Here's Trigger Ribb bin seein' red 'N' raisin' Cain because he had, Back in the caverns iv his 'ead, A 'oller tooth run ravin' mad. Pore Trigger up 'n' down the trench Was jiggin' like a blithered loan, 'N' every time she give a wrench You orter seen the beggar blench, You orter 'eard him play a toon.
The sullen shells was pawin' blind, A-feelin' for us grim as sin, While now 'n' then we'd likely find A dizzy bomb come limpin' in. But Trigger simply let 'er sizz. He 'ardly begged to be excused. This was no damn concern of his. He twined a muffler round his phiz, 'N' fearful was the words he used.
Lest we be getting' cock-a-whoop Ole 'Ans tries out his box of tricks. His bullets all around the coop Is peckin' like a million chicks. But Trigger when they barks his snout Don't sniff at it. He won't confess They're on the earth—ignores the clout, 'N' makes the same old sung about His brimmin' mug of bitterness.
They raided us there in the mud One day afore the dead sun rose. Me oath, the mess of stuff and blood Would give a slaughterman the joes! And when the scrap is past and done, Where's Trigger Ribb? The noble youth Has got his bay'net in a Hun, While down his cheeks the salt tears run. Sez he to me "Gorbli'—this tooth!"
A shell hoist Trigger in a tree. We found him motherin' his jor. "If this ache's goin' on," sez he, "So 'elp me, it'll spoil the war!" Five collared Trigger on his perch, They wired his molar to a bough, Then give the anguished one a lurch, 'N' down he pitches. From that birch His riddled tooth is hangin' now.
This afternoon it's merry 'ell; Grenades is comin' by the peck; A big gun times us true 'n well, And, oh! we gets it in the neck. They lick out flames hat reach a mile, The drip of lead will never cease. But Trigger's pottin' all the while; He sports a fond 'n' foolish smile- "Thank Gord," he sez, "a bit of peace!"
THE HAPPY GARDENERS.
WE were storemen, clerks and packers on an ammunition dump Twice the size of Cootamundra, and the goods we had to hump They were bombs as big as water-butts, and cartridges in tons, Shells that looked like blessed gasmains, and a line in traction-guns.
We had struck a warehouse dignity in dealing with the stocks. It was, "Sign here, Mr. Eddie!" "Clarkson, forward to the socks!" Our floor-walker was a major, with a nozzle like a peach, And a stutter in his Trilbies; and a limping kind of speech.
We were off at eight to business, we were free for lunch at one, And we talked of new Spring fashions, and the brisk trade being done. After five we sought our dugouts lying snug beneath the hill, Each with hollyhocks before it and geraniums on the sill.
Singing "Home, Sweet home," we swept, and scrubbed, and dusted up the place, Then smoked out on the doorstep in the twi- light's tender grace. After which with spade and rake we sought our special garden plot, And we 'tended to the cabbage and the shrink- ing young shallot.
So long lived we unmolested that this seemed indeed "the life." Set apart from mirk and worry and the inci- dence of strife; And we trimmed our Kitchen Eden, swapping vegetable lore, Whi1e the whole demented world beside was muddled up with war.
There was little talk of Boches and of bloody battle scenes, But a deal about Bill's spuds and Billy Carkeek's butter-beans; Porky specialised on onion and he had a sort of gift For a cabbage plump and tender that it took two men to lift.
In the pleasant Sabbath morning, when the sun lit on our "street," And illumed the happy dugout with effulgence kind and sweet, It was fine to see us forking, raking, picking off the bugs, Treading flat the snails and woodlice and demolishing the slugs.
Then one day old Fritz got going. He had a hint of us, And the shell the blighter posted was as roomy as a 'bus; He was groping round the dump, and kind of pecking after it; When he plugged the hill the world heeled up, the dome of heaven split.
Then, 0 Gott and consternation! Swooped a shell a and stuck her nose In Carkeek's beans. Those beans came up! A cry of grief arose! As we watched them—plunk! another shell cut loose, and everywhere Flew the spuds of Billy Murphy. There were turnips in the air.
Bill! she tore a quarter-acre from the land- scape. With it burst Tommy's carrots, and we watched them, and in whispers prayed and cursed. Then a wail of anguish 'scaped us. Boomed in Porky's cabbage plot A detestable concussion. Porky's cabbages were not!
There the Breaking strain was reached, for Porky fetched an awful cry, And he rushed away and armed himself. With loathing in his eye, Up and over went the hero. He was savage Through and through, And he tore across the distance like a mad- dened kangaroo.
They had left a woeful sight indeed—frail cab- bages all rent, Turnips mangled, little carrots all in one red burial blent, Parsnips ruined, lettuce shattered, torn and wilted beet and bean, And a black and grinning gap where once our garden flourished green.
. . . . . . Five and fifty hours had passed when came a German in his shirt. On his back he carried Porky black with blood, and smoke and dirt. "I sniped six of 'em," said Porky, "an' me pris'ner here," he sez- "I done in the crooel swine what strafed me helpless cabba-ges."
I TOOK to khaki at a word, And fashioned dreams of wonder. I rode the great sea like a bird, Chock full of blood and thunder. I saw myself upon the field Of battle, framed in glory, Compelling stubborn foes to yield As captives to my sword and shield— This is another story.
We sat about in sun and sand, We broke old Cairo's images, Met here and there a swarthy band In little, friendly scrimmages, And here it is I start to kid No Moslem born can hit me. The Germ then that had long laid hid Came out of Pharaoh's pyramid, And covertly he bit me.
For some few days I wore an air Of pensive introspection, And then I curled down anywhere. They whispered of infection, And hoist me on two sticks as though I bore the leper's label, And took me where, all in a row Of tiny beds, two score or so Were raising second Babel;
But no man talked to any one. And no bloke knew another. This soldier raved about his gun, And that one of his mother. They were the victims of the Germ, The imp that Satan pricks in, First cousin to the Coffin Worm, Whose uncomputed legions squirm Some foul, atomic Styx in.
The Germ rides with the plunging shell, Or on the belts that fret you, Or in a speck of dust may well One thousand years to get you; Well ambushed in a tunic fold He waits his special mission, And never lad so big and bold But turns to water in his hold And dribbles to perdition.
Where is war's pomp and circumstance, The gauds in which we prank it? Germ ends for us our fine romance, Wrapped in a dingy blanket. We set out braggartly in mirth, World's bravest men and tallest, To do the mightiest thing on earth, And here we're lying, nothing worth, Succumbent to the smallest!
IN days before the trouble Jo was rated as a slob. He chose to sit in hourly expectation of a job. He'd loop hisself upon a post, for seldom friends had he, A gift of patient waitin' his distinctif quality. He'd linger in a doorway, or he'd loiter on the grass, Edgin' modestly aside to let the fleetin' moments pass.
Jo' begged a bob from mother, but more often got a clout, And settled down with cigarettes to smoke the devil out. The one consistent member of the Never Trouble Club, He put a satin finish on the frontage of the pub. His shoulder-blades were pokin' out from polishin' the pine; But if a job ran at him Joey's footwork was divine.
Jo strayed in at the cobbler's door, but, scoffed at as a fool, He found the conversation too exhaustin' as a rule; Or, canted on the smithy coke, he'd hoist his feet and yawn, His boots slid up his shinbones, and his pants displayin' brawn: And if the copper chanced along 'twas beauty- ful to see Joe wear away and made hisself a fadest memory.
Then came the universal nark. The Kaiser let her rip. They cleared the ring. The scrap was for the whole world's championship. Jo Brown was takin' notice, lurkin' shy be- neath his hat, And every day he crept to see the drillin' on the flat. He waited, watchin' from the furze the blokes in butcher's blue, For the burst of inspiration that would tell him what to do.
He couldn't lean, he couldn't lie. He yelled out in the night. Jo understood—he'd all these years been spoilin' for a fight! Right into things he flung himself. He took his kit and gun, Mooched gladly in the dust, or roasted gaily in the sun. "Gorstruth," he said, with shining eyes, "it means a frightful war, 'N' now I know this is the thing that Heaven meant me for."
Jo went away a corporal and fought again the Turk, And like a duck to water Joey cottoned to the work. If anythin' was doin' it would presently come out That Joseph Brown from Booragool was there or thereabout. He got a batch of medals, and a glorious renown Attached all of a sudden to the name of Sergeant Brown.
Then people talked of Joey as the dearest friend they had; They were chummy with his uncles, or ac- quainted with his dad. Joe goes to France, and presently he figure as the best Two-handed all-in fighter in the armies of the West, And men of every age at home and high and low degree, We gather now, once went to school with Sergeant Brown, V.C.
Then Hayes and Jo, in Flanders met, and very proud was Hayes To shake a townsman by the hand, and sing the hero's praise, "Oh, yes," says Jo, "I'm doin' well, 'n' yet I might do more. If I was in a hurry, mate, to finish up this war I'd lay out every Fritz on earth, but, strike me, what a yob A man would be to work himself out of a flamnin' job!"
Now Jo's a swell lieutenant, and he's keepin' up the pace. Ha "Record" says Lieutenant Brown's an honor to the place. The town gets special mention every time he scores. We bet If peace don't mess his chances up, he'll be Field-Marshal yet. Dad, mother and the uncles Brown and all our people know That Providence began this war to find a grip for Jo!
THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND ME.
I SAID: "I leave my bit of land- In khaki they've entwined me, I go abroad to lend a hand." Said she: "My love, I understand. I will be true, and though we part A thousand years you hold my heart"- The girl I left behind me.
I went away to fight the Huns- No coward thought could bind me, I sizzled n the tropic suns, I faced the bayonets and the guns. And when in daring deeds I shone One little woman spurred me on- The girl I left behind me.
Out there, in grim Gallipoli. Hard going they assigned me, I pricked the Turk up from the sea; I riddled him, he punctured me; And, bleeding in my rags, I said: "She'll meet me somewhere if I'm dead- The girl I left behind me.
In France we broke the German's face- They tried with gas to blind me. In mud we bogged from front to base, And dirt was ours, but not disgrace. They carved me till I couldn't stand. Said I "Now for the Lodden, and The girl I left behind me.
I came ashore, and struck the track; For dust you scarce could find me. The dear girl gave no welcome back- Shed changed her names and state, alack! "You've been a time, I must say, Ned, In finishing your old war." Said The girl I left behind me.
I flung a song up to the skies. For battles gods designed me. I think of Fifi's laughing eyes, And Nami, dusk, but sweet and wise, And chortle in my heart to find How very far I've left behind- The girl I left behind me
HOW HERMAN WON THE CROSS
ONCE in a blue eternity they gave us dabs of rum To close the seams 'n' keep the flume in liquor-tight condition; But, soft 'n' sentimental, when the long, cold evenin's come, I'd dream me nibs was dronking' to the height of his ambition, With rights of suction over all the breweries there are, Where barrels squat, like Brahma gods, in Mother Hardy's bar.
I had me fit of longin' on the night the Ger- mans came, All breathin' lioke a gas attack. The air was halcholic. We smelt 'em in the darkness, 'n' our rage went up in flame. It was envy, squealin' envy, put the ginger in the frolic. We shot 'em full of spelter, then went over it to spite The swines what drunk the liquor that was ours by common right.
"If this ain't stopped, 'n' quick," sez we, "there won't be left a drop To celebrate the vict'ry when we capture their position." I'm prowlin' blind, when sharp there comes a fond, familiar plop- Swung round a post, a German in a pitiful condition Looms over me. He's sprung a cork, and shales a flask on high, 'N' sings of beer that touchin' it would make a butcher cry.
Sez he: "Berloffed kamarid, you haf some drinks mit you." I meant to spike him where he waved, but altered me intention. 'N' "If you put it thus," sez I, "I don't care if I do." We had a drink together. There's a tem- por'y suspension Of hostilities to sample contraband 'n' other stuff In the enemy's possession. Which I think he's had enough.
That Hun had thirty pockets, 'n' he'd stowed a flask in each, 'N' presently I'm thinkin' I could love him like a brother. He's talkin' fond 'n' friendly in outlandish parts of speech. "You're prisoner of war," I sez; 'n' then we had another. Ten flasks he pours into his hat, 'n' fills it to the brim, 'N' weeps 'n' sez his frau she will be waitin' up for him.
We drink each other's health, 'n' know no henmity nor fear. I see I've got to pinch him, but he's out to do his div. in, 'N' don't care if he don't go home till day- light doth appear. Sez he: "I pud you home to bed upside dot 'ouse you live in." He shakes his finger in me eye: "Mein friendt, you're preddy trunk!" Then arm in arm through No Man's land we does a social bunk.
There's Fear afoot. Comes more than once the glug of sudden death. We're rockin' fine 'n' careless where the rifle fire is breakin', 'N' singin' most uproar'ous, in the bomb's disgustin' breath, Of girls, 'n' drink, 'n' cheerful sprees, 'n' 'Herman thinks he's takin' A cobber home to somewhere in an subbub damp 'n' dim, Whereas I know fer certain it is me is takin' him.
Somehow, sometime, I lands him where he's safely put to bed. I wake nex' day, 'n' holy smoke! I'm pri- soner with the German. Me mouth is like an ashpan, there's hot fish- bolts in me head, 'N' through the barb-wire peerin' is me foreigh cobber 'Erman. "Ve capdure each lasd nighd," sez he "you home haf bring me, boss." For bravery in takin' me, he got the Iron Cross!
WHEN TOMMY CAME MARCHING HOME.
DEVINE came back the other day. We'd planned a great home-comin'. No long trombone we had to play, No fine, heroic drummin'. With two sticks and a milk-can Borne Put up a martial clatter, While Carter blew a bullock-horn Says Tom Devine, with healthy scorn; "Gorstruth! what is the matter?"
We set three colored petticoats From Baker's chimneys blowin' ('Tis not the bravest flag that floats, Yet 'twas the finest goin'); We cheered our hero all we knew, No song of praise neglectin', To show our pride as he limped through He merely spat and snorted, "Who "The deuce are yous expectin'?"
They lured him to my shop somehow, And sued for news of battle. Says Tom: "Who rides the mail track now? Who herdin' Stringer's cattle?" A dint the Turk put in his head. He covers with a ringlet. He'd won a medal, so we read. "I might 'ave 'ad it pinched," he said- "I've sewn it in my singlet!"
Says Cole "But, 'struth, you must 'ave seen A fearful swag of scrappin'." And Tom agrees "Where men are keen That's pretty sure to 'appen. One night a little bloke from Hay Who plugged a Pentridge warder Got such a doin' that at day, Amazed, they ticked him for a stray Distinguished Service Order.
"Then Sydney Bob was rather vexed With Green—who'd pinched his braces, That was 'continued in our next' In half a score of places. McCubbin threw his grub at Lea (You know how sticky stew is); They fought till neither man could see. You talk of fight—Gorstrike me, we Saw stacks of it at Suez!"
BACK again 'n' nothin' missin' barrin' arf a hand, Where an Abdul bit me, chokin' in the Holy Land. 'Struth, they got some dirty fighters in the Moslem pack, Bull-nosed slugs their sneakin' snipers spat ters in yer back Blows a gapin' sort iv pit in What a helephant could sit in. Bounced their bullets, if yeh please, Like the 'oppers in a cheese, Off me rubber pelt in droves, Moppin' up the other coves. So here's me once more at large in Bay-street, Port, a bloomin' Sargin'. "Cri, it jumbo." "Have a beer." "Wot-o, Anzac; you're a dear."
Back once more on Moley's corner, loafin' like a dook; Back on Bourke, me livin' image, not a slinkin' spook; Solid ez the day I started, medals on me chest, Switchin' with me pert melacca, swankin' with the best Where the little wimmen's flowin', With their veils 'n' ribbons blowin'- See their eyes of bloo 'n' brown Butterflyin' 'bout the town! Back at 'ome-oh, 'struth, it's good! Long, cold lagers from the wood, Ev'ry cobber jumpin' at you, Strangers duckin' in to bat you- "Good ole Jumbo, how're you?" "'Ello, soldier, howja do?"
Back at Grillo's where the nigger googs his whitey eyes, Plucks his black ole greasy banjo while the cod-steak fries; Fish 'n' chips, a pint iv local, and the tidy girl Dancin' glad attendance on yeh 'zif yeh was an earl; Trailin' round the blazin' city, Feelin' all content 'n' pretty, Where the smart procession goes, Prinked 'n' polished to the shows, One among the happy drive- 'Sworth the world to be alive! Dames ez smilin' ez a mother, Ev'ry man ver fav'rit brother: "'Ello, Jumbo, how is it ?" "Arr there, soldier! Good 'n' fit?"
Takin' hozone at St. Kilder's good enough for me, Seein' Summer and the star-blink simmer in the sea; Cantin' up me bloomin' cady, toyin' with a cig., Blowin' out me pout a little, chattin' wide 'n' big When there's skirt around to skite to. Say, 'oo has a better right to? Done me bit 'n' done it well, Got the tag iv plate to tell; Square Gallipoli surviver, With a touch iv Colonel's guyver. "Sargin' Jumbo, good ole son!" "Soldier, soldier, you're the one!"
Back again, a wounded hero, moochin' up 'n' down, Feelin' 'sthough I'd got a fond arf-Nelson on the town; Never was so gay, so 'elp me, never felt so kind; Fresh from 'ell a paradise ain't very hard to find. After filth, 'n' flies, 'n' slaughter Fat brown babies in the water, Singin' people on the sand Makes a boshter Happy Land! War what toughened hone 'n' hide Turned a feller soft inside! Great it is, the 'earty greetin's, Friendly digs, 'n' cheerful meetin's "'Ello, Jumbo, howja do?" "Soldier, soldier, how're you?"
THREE other soldier blokes 'n' me packed 'ome from foreign lands; Bit into each the God of Battles' everlastin' brands. They limped in time, 'n' coughed in tune, 'n' one was short an ear, 'N' one was short a tier of ribs 'n' all was short of beer. I speaks up like a temp'rance gent, But ever since the sky was bent The thirst of man 'as never yet bin squenched with argument.
Bill's skull was welded all across, Jim 'ad an eye in soak, Sam 'obbled on a patent leg, 'n' every man was broke; They sang a song of "Mother" with their faces titled up. Says Bill-o: "'Ere's yer 'eroes, sling the bloomin' votive cup! We got no beer, the soup was bad- Now oo will stand the soldier lad The swag of honest liquor that for years he hasn't 'ad?"
Sez I: "Respeck yer uniform! Remember oo you are!" They'd pinched a wicker barrer, 'arf a pram 'n' 'arf a car. In this ole Bill-o nestled 'neath a blanket, on his face A someone's darlin' sorter look, a touch iv boy'ood's grace. The gentle ladies stopped to 'ear, 'N' dropped a symperthetic tear, A dollar or a deener for the pore haff1ict dear.
The others trucked the wounded to a hentrance up a lane. I sez: "Sich conduck's shameful!" Bill-o took to ease his pain One long 'un and another. The conductor picked his brand; The gripman lent his countenance to wot he 'ad in 'and. And when they moved their stand 'twas Sam Lay pale 'n' peaceful in the pram, 'N' twenty flappers stroked his paw, 'n' said he was a lamb.
The gathered in the tokens and they blooed 'em as above, While Jim-o done the hinvalid 'oom Sammy had to shove. Sez I: "No noble 'eroes what's bin fightin' for their king Should smirch theirselves by doin' this dis- 'onerable thing." But fine old gents 'n' donahs prim They stopped 'n' slid the beans to Jim. You betcher life I let 'im hear just what I though of 'im.
Nine, g.m. at St. Kilder, saw the finish of the prowl. Each 'ad his full-'n'-plentv, and was blowin' in the tow'l. As neither bloke cud stand alone, they leaned 'n' argufied Which was the patient sufferer oo's turn it was to ride. Each 'eld a san'wich and a can. Sez I: "This shouldn't 'ave began- 'Tain't conduck wot it worthy of a soldier and a man."
I cud 'a' cried with injured pride. Afore a push the three Got scrappin', vague 'n' foolish, which the cripple boy should be. Sam slips his scientific leg, 'n' flings it in the drain- "I'll auto 'ome," he sez, "or never see me 'ome again." But I am thinkin' 'ard oo he Tucked 'elpiess in the pram might be. Comes sudden reckerlection. Great Gohan- ners, it is me!
HAULED I was from out the tip Fritz made with his demonstration, All broke up, a fractured hip In me Darby Kell a rip Settn' up a cool sensation Like excessive ventilation
One 'and cluttered up a treat- On me oath you wouldn't know it From a 'andsome plate of meat. They had sorter pied me feet, And a bullet of the foe hit Where no decent bloke could show it.
'Arf a year they've botched me now; Ev'ry scientific schemer In the cor' has faked me prow, Soled 'n' heeled a bloke somehow- Gawd, the last one was a screamer. Wirin' up me flamin' femur!
Comes a guy and pipes you square, Gogglin' at you through his glasses, Swings you in the barber's chair, Tilts you this end up with care, Lets you have a whiff of gasses Chattin' off-hand with the lasses.
Then he slices clean 'n' swift, Like a cobbler cuts his leather, Gives the splintered knob a lift- S'elp me tater, it's a gift How they glues you all together, Sayin' it's bin nicer weather!
Surgeon wipes his 'ands, a verse Chort1e softly as he pitches Probes and sponges to the nurse, Thinks the lunch might have bin worse; Close your little gap he hitches, Whistlin' as he jabs the stitches.
I'm caught in with fiddle-strings, Stuck about with bits 'n' patches, Fixed with ligatures 'n' springs, Lath 'n' plastered, swung in slings Skewered with little wooden matches, Hung with hinges, knobs 'n' latches.
Till I lay behind me screen, Serious 'n' sober one day, Satisfied 'n' all serene, 'Arf a man 'n' 'arf machine What they winds up ev'ry Monday 'N' it tilts all ways by Sunday.
'Ome again I'll come, a neat, Semi-autymatic loafer, Number up, 'n' all complete, Creakin' round on Collins Street, With a licence (which I'll owe for) My own car and my own shofer!
OUT OF KHAKI.
I SLUNG me khaki suit to-day. Civilian now front heel to chin I 'op round on a single shin; At home in peace I'm bound to stay. 'N' so they've took me duds away. It 'urt like strippin' off me skin!
I put it on three years ago, The ole brown rig. There wasn't then A prouder chicken in the pen. Jist twenty turned, me nibs you'd know For how I give me chest a throw, A man among the best of men.
Me little no the touch I give, Me chin's ez solid ez a rock, 'N' level with the Town 'All clock, A five-inch grin across me chiv. "Lor' love us, this is how to live," Sez I, 'n' felt I owned the Block.
Glad eyes was ever on the lurk, 'N' little 'earts was thumpin' warm For nippers trainin' with the swarm To swat ole Kaiser Bill, or work A toe-hold on the heathen Turk. Fair dink, I loved the uniform!
I soused mine in the brine that day When Tophet spilt, 'n' in the roar Of shells that split the sea 'n' tore Our boats to chips, we broke any Up through the pelt of leaden spray, 'N' got our first real taste of war.
They shot me tunic all to rags; Then in the perpendic'lar spree Me trousers wore off to the knee. The right-abouts of many bags Was ground off in the dust 'n' crags A-sittin' in Gallipoli.
I wore the khaki on the Somme- Most time 'twas jist a coat of mud; I once come through the battle scud Stripped mother-naked by a bomb; 'N' once it' took its color from Me own 'n' one good cobber's blood.
They cheered the khaki through the street When we come home with pipers gay, But now I'm jist a bloke in grey. Harf-lost, lob-sided, incomplete, It's nothin' but me spook you'll meet, Ghost-walkin' in the light o' day.
THE SINGLE-HANDED TEAM
WE'RE more than partners, Ned 'n' me, Two sections permanently righted. Yiv seen us on the mooch, maybe, Like remnants lovin'ly united. Ned's only got one stump, the left; By 'appy chance I've got its brother, Of his two dukes he's been bereft; My left was mauled, 'n' had to go, It fortunitly 'appens though, I kept the other.
Ned lost one ear, the left, 'n' struth, He dropped the correspondin' weeper. A Hun he crooled me lovely youth By bombin' out me right 'and peeper. He done a guy too with me ear, The right, 'n' now I dunno whether 'Twas Fate's intention, butt it's clear When trimmed each as the other's mate 'Twas up to us two, soon or late, To get together.
'Board ship there's me like arf a peach, 'N' Ned's the other arf, but soon it Strikes' Bill Carkeek that side by each We makes a satisfact'rv unit. A 'andy cobber on the ship Fakes up for us a set of clutches That damps us firmly hip to hip. In seven minutes we can peg The mile out on a timber leg 'N' two steel crutches.
We now go halves, like Si'mese twins, 'N' as a team I hold we're bosker— The blighter on the street that grins Has got to deal with Edwin-Oscar. At balls we two-step, waltz, 'n' swing, 'N' proppin' walls no one has seen us. When at the bar I never ring The double on ole Ned. For both One hand must serve, 'n', on me oath, It's fair between us.
We jolt one knife 'n' fork, 'n' find One horse enough for both to ride on, And neither feller rides behind. Some sez we put a pile of side on. Well, where's the single-handed brace Will take us on? We'll put the peg in, Train fine, 'n' jump, or box, or race, Or wrestle them; 'n' more than that To clinch a match, so 'elp me cat, We'll throw a leg in!
He's five feet eight, I'm little less; He's Roman, I'm a sort of Proddy; But no sectarian bitterness Will disunite this sec'lar body— We're hitched for good, we're two in one. Our taste's the same, from togs to tipple. But, straight, it makes me sad, ole son, To think if he should croak or me, The pore bloke what is left might be A bloomin' cripple.
A QUAINT old gabled cottage sleeps be- tween the raving hills. To right and left are livid strife, but on the deep, wide sills The purple pot-flowers swell and glow, and o'er the walls and eaves Prinked creeper steals caressing hands, the poplar drips its leaves. Within the garden hot and sweet Fair form and woven color meet, While down the clear, cool stones, 'tween banks with branch and blossom gay, A little, bridged, blind rivulet goes touching out its way.
Peace lingers hidden from the knife, the tear- ing blinding shell, Where falls the spattered sunlight on a lichen- covered well. No voice is here, no fall of feet, no smoke lifts cool and grey, But on the granite stoop a cat blinks vaguely at the day. From hill to hill across the vale Storms man's terrific iron gale; The cot roof on a brooding dove recks not the distant gun. A brown hen scolds her chickens chasing midges in the sun.
Now down the eastward slope they come. No call of life, no beat of drum, But stealthily, and in the green, Low hid, with rifle and machine, Spit hate and death; and red blood flows To shame the whiteness of the rose.
Crack followes crash; the bestial roar Of gastly and insensate war Breaks on the cot. A rending stoke, The red roof springs, and in the smoke And spume of shells the riven walls Pile where the splintered elm-tree spawls.
From westward, streaming down hill, Shot-ravaged, thinned, but urgent still, The brown, fierce, blooded Anzacs sweep, And Hell leaps a up. The lilies weep Strange crimson tears. Tight-lipped and mute, The grim, gaunt soldiers stab and shoot.
It passes. Frantic, fleeing death, Wild-eyed, foam-flecked and every breath A labored agony, like deer That feel the hounds' keen teeth, appear The Prussian men, and, wild to slay The hunters press upon their prey.
Cries fade and fitful shots die down. The Tumbled ruin now Smoke faintly in the summer light, and lifts The trodden bough. A sigh stirs in the trampled green, and held And tainted red The rill creeps o'er a dead man's face and steals along its bed. One deep among the lilacs thrown Shock all the stillness with a moan. Peace like the snowflake lights again where utter silence lies, And softly with white finger-tips she seals a soldier eyes.
THE LETTERS OF THE DEAD.
A LETTER came from Dick to-day; A greeting glad he sends to me. He tells of one more bloody fray— Of how with bomb and rifle they Have put their mark for all to see Across rock-ribbed Gallipoli.
"How are you doing? Hope all's well, I in great nick, and like the work. Though there may be a brimstone smell, And other pungent hints of Hell, Not Satan's self can make us shirk Our task of hitting up the Turk.
"You bet old Slacks is not half bad He knows his business in a scrim. He gets cold steel, or we are glad To stop him with a bullet, lad. Or sling a bomb his hair to trim; But, straight, we throw no mud at him.
"He fights and falls, and comes again, And knocks our charging lines about. He's game at heart, and tough in grain, And canters through the leaded rain, Chock full of mettle—not a doubt 'T will do us proud to put him out.
"But that's our job; to see it through We've made our minds up, come what may, This noon we had our work to do. The shells were dropping two by two; We fairly felt their bullets play Among our hair for half a day.
"One clipped my ear, a red-hot kiss, Another beggar chipped my shin. They pass you with a vicious hiss That makes you duck; but, hit or miss, It isn't in the Sultan's skin To shift Australia's cheerful grin.
"My oath, old man, though we were prone We didn't take it lying down. I got a dozen on my own— All dread of killing now is flown; It is the game, and, hard and brown, We're wading in for freedom's crown.
"Big guns are booming as I write, A lad is singing 'Dolly Grey,' The shells are skipping in the night, And, square and all, I feeling right For, whisper, Ned, the fellows say I did a ripping thing to-day.
"Soon homeward tramping with the band, All notched a bit, and with the prize Of glory for our native land, I'll see my little sweetheart stand And smile, her smile, so sweet and wise— With proud tears shining in her eyes.
"Geewhiz! What price your humble when Triumphant from the last attack, We face a Melbourne crowd again, Tough, happy, battle-proven men, And while the cheer-stormed heavens crack I bring the tattered colors back!" . . . A mist is o'er the written line Whence martial ardor seems to flow; A dull ache holds this heart of mine— Poor boy, he had a vision fine; But grave dust clouds the royal glow; He died in action weeks ago!
He was my friend—I may not weep. My soul goes out to Him who bled; I pray for Christ's compassion deep On mothers, lovers—all who keep The woeful vigil, having read The joyous letters of the dead.
AS bullets come to us they're thin, They're angular, or smooth and fat, Some spiral are, and gimlet in, And some are sharp, and others flat. The slim one pink you clean and neat, The flat ones bat a solid blow Much as a camel throws his feet, And leave you beastly incomplete. If lucky you don't know it through.
The flitting bullets flow and flock; They twitter as they pass; They're picking at the solid rock, They're rooting in the grass. A tiny ballet swiftly throws Its gossamer of rust, Brown fairies on their little toes A-dancing in the dust.
You cower down when first they come With snaky whispers at your ear; And when like swarming bees they hum You know the tinkling chill of fear. A whining thing will pluck your heel, A whirring insect sting your shin; You shrink to half your size, and feel The ripples o'er your body seal- 'Tis terror walking in your skin!
The bullets pelt like winter hail, The whistle and they sigh, They shrill like cordage in a gale, Like mewing kittens cry; They hiss and spit, they purring come; Or, silent all a span, They rap, as on a slackened drum, The dab that kills a man.
Rage takes you next. All hot your face The bitter void, and curses leap From pincered teeth. The wide, still space Whence all these leaden devil's sweep Is Tophet. Fiends by day and night Are groping for your heart to sate In blood their diabolic spite. You shoot in idiot delight, Each winging slug a hymn of hate.
The futile bullets scratch and go, They chortle and the coo. I laugh my scorn, for now I know The thing they cannot do. They flit like midges in the sun, But howso thick they be What matter, since there is not one That God has marked for me!
An Eastern old philosophy Come home at length and passion stills- The thing will be that is to be, And all must come as Heaven wills. Where in the swelter and the flame The new, hot, shining bullets drip; One in the many has an aim, Inwove a visage and a name- No man may give his fate the slip!
The bullets thrill along the breeze, They drum upon the bags, They tweak your ear, your hair they tease, And peck your sleeve to rags. Their voices may no more annoy- I chortle at the call: The bullet that is mine, my boy, I shall not hear at all!
The war's a flutter very like The tickets that we took from Tatt. Quite possibly I'll make a strike; The odds are all opposed to that. Behind the dawn the Furies sway The mighty globe from which to get Those bullets which throughout the day Will winners be to break or slay. I have not struck a starter yet
The busy bullets rise and flock; They whistle as they pass; They're chipping at the solid rock, They're skipping in the grass. Out there the tiny dancers throw Their sober skirts of rust, Brown flitting figures tipping toe Along the golden dust.
I SAW the Christ down from His cross, A tragic man lean-limbed and tall, But weighed with suffering and loss. His back was to a broken wall, And out upon the tameless world Was fixed His gaze His piercing eye Beheld the towns to ruin hurled, And saw the storm of death pass by.
Two thousand years it was since first He offered to the race of men His sovran boon, As one accurst They nailed Him to the jibbet then, And while they mocked Him for their mirth He smiled, and from the hill of pain To all the hating tribes of earth Held forth His wondrous gift again.
To-day the thorns were on His brow, His grief was deeper than before. From ravaged field and city now Arose the screams and reek of war. The black smoke parted. Through the rift God's sun fell on the b1oody lands. Christ wept, for still His priceless gift He held within His wounded hands.
THE LIVING PICTURE
HE rode along one splendid noon, When all the hills were lit with Spring, And through the bushland throbbed a croon Of every living, hopeful thing.
Between his teeth a rose he bore As white as milk, and passing there He tossed it with a laugh. I wore It as it fell among my hair.
No day a-drip with golden rain, No heat with drench of wattle scent Can touch the heart of me again But with that young, sweet wonder blent.
We wed upon a gusty day, When baffled fury whipped the sea; And now I love the swift, wet play Of wind and rain besetting me.
I took white roses in my hand, A white rose on my forehead shone, For we had come to understand White roses bloomed for us alone.
When scarce a year had gone he sped To fight the wars. With eyes grown grim He kissed my lips, and whispering said: "The world we must keep sweet for him!"
He wrote of war, the soldier's life. "'Tis hard, my dearest, but be brave. I did not make my love my wife To be the mother of a slave!"
My babe was born a boy. He had His father's eyes, his smile, his hair, And, oh, my soul was brimming glad— It seemed his father's self was there!
But now came one who bade me still In holy Heaven put my trust. They'd laid my love beneath the hill, And sealed his eyes with timeless dust.
Against my breast the babe I drew, With strength from him to stay my fears. I fought my fight the long days through; He laughed and dabbled in my tears.
From my poor heart, at which it fed With tiger teeth, I thrust despair, And faced a world with shadow spread And only echoes in the air.
The winter waned. One eve I went, Led by a kindly hand to see In moving scenes the churches rent, The tumbled hill, the blasted lee.
Of soldiers resting by the road, Who smoked and drowsed, a muddy rout, One sprang alert, and forward strode, With eager eyes to seek us out.
His fingers held a rose. He threw The flower, and waved his cap. In me A frenzy of assurance grew, For, O dear God, 'twas he! 'twas he!
I called aloud. Aloft my child I held, and nearer yet he came; And when he understood and smiled, My baby lisped his father's name.
They say I fell like something dead, But when I woke to morning's glow My boy sat by me on the bed, And in his hand a rose of snow!
THE IMMORTAL STRAIN.
"Late Midshipman John Travers (Chester), aged 16 years. He was mortally wounded early in the action, yet he remained alone in a most exposed post awaiting orders, with his gun's crew dead all round him."
WE told old stories one by one, Brave tales of men who toyed with death, Of wondrous deeds of valor done In days of bold Elizabeth. "Alas! our British stock," said we, "Is not now what it used to be."
We read of Drake's great sailors, or Of fighting men that Nelson led, Who steered the walls of oak to war. "These were our finest souls," we said. "Their fame is on the ocean writ, Nor time, nor storm may cancel it.
"The mariners of England then Were lords of battle and of breeze. The were, indeed the wondrous men Who won for us the shoreless seas, Who took old Neptune's ruling brand And set it in Britannia's hand.
"But now," we sighed, "the blood is pale, We're little people of the street, And dare not front the shrilling gale. The sons of England are effete, Of shorter limb and smaller mould, Mere pigmies by the men of old."
Then came the vibrant bugle note. None cowered at the high alarm, The steady fleets were still afloat, And England saw her soldiers arm, And readily, with sober grace. The close-set ranks swung into place.
On sea and shore they fought again, And storied heroes came to life, Once more were added to the slain. Once more found glory in the strife; Again her yeoman sons arose; A wall 'tween Britain and her foes.
The eager lads, with laughing lips And souls elate, where oceans roar, Or planes the eagle's flight eclipse, Give all for her, and come no more; Or where death thunders down the sky Beside their silent guns they lie;
This boy who, while the iron rains With seething riot whip the flood, Fights on, till in his heart remains No single drop of English blood, Avers the British strain sublime, Outliving Death, outlasting Time!
I SEE grim War, a bestial thing, with swinish tusks to tear; Upon his back the vampires cling, Thin vipers twine among his hair, The tiger's greed is in his jowl, His eye is red with bloody tears, And every obscene beast and fowl From out his leprous visage leers. In glowing pride fell fiends arise, And, trampled, God the Father lies.
Not God alone the Demon slays; The hills that swell to Heaven drip With ooze of murdered men; for days The dead drift with the drifting ship, And far as eye may see the plain Is cumbered deep with slaughtered ones, Contorted to the shape of pain, Dissolving 'neath the callous suns, And driven in his foetid breath Still ply the harvesters of Death.
He sits astride an engine dread, And at his touch the awful ball Across the quaking world is sped, I see a million creatures fall. Beyond the soldiers on the hill, The mother by her basinet. The bolt its mission must fulfil, And in the years that are not yet Creation by the blow is shorn Of dimpled hosts of babes unborn!
THE COMMON MEN.
THE great men framed the fierce decrees Embroiling State with State; They bit their thumbs across the seas In diplomatic hate; They lit the pyre whose glare and heat Make Hell itself seem cold; The flames bloomed red above the wheat, Their wild profusion wreathed the street- Then in the smoke and fiery sleet The common men took hold.
Where Babel was with Bedlam freed, And wide the gates were flung; To chaos, while the anarch breed In all the world gave tongue, The common men in close array, By mountain, plain and sea, Went outward girded for the fray, On one dear quest, whate'er they pay In blood and pain—the open way To keep for Liberty.
The common men who never tire, Unsightly in the mirk Of caking blood and smoke and mire, Push forward with their work; A while in foulest pits entombed, Resistless, still and slow, Burnt, broken, stifled, seeming doomed, Past where the flowers of Satan bloomed, Up gutted hills with shell-breath plumed, The stubborn armies go.
Contending in the shattered sky In empyrean wars, The sons of simple men out-vie God's splendid meteors; Where'er the mills of Vulcan roared And blinked against the night, Swart shapes with sweat-washed eyes have stored The clean, lean lightnings of the Lord To be a league-long, leaping sword In this our holy fight.
The small men know the burden well, The dreadful paths they know, With fear and death and torture dwell. And sup and sleep with, woe. They're riven in the shrapnel gust, But; blind and reeling, plan Another blow, a final thrust To subjugate the tyrant's lust. So, bleeding, blundering in the dust, Men fight and die for MAN.
THE CHURCH BELLS.
The Viennese authorities have melted down the great bell in St. Stephen's to supply metal for guns or muntions. Every poor village has made a similar gift.—Lokal Anzeiger.
THE great bell booms across the town, Reverberant and slow, And drifting from their houses down The calm-eyed people go. Their feet fall on the portal stones Their fathers' fathers trod; And still the bell, with reverent tones, From cottage nooks and purple thrones Is calling souls to God.
The chapel bells with ardor spake Above the poplars tall, And perfumed Sabbath seemed to wake. Responsive to their call From dappled vale and green hillside And nestling village hives The peasants came in simple pride To hear how their Lord Jesus died To sweeten all their lives.
. . .
They boom beyond the battered town; The hills are belching smoke; And valleys charred and ranges brown Are quaking 'neath the stroke. The iron roar to Heaven swells, And domes and steeples nod; Through cities vast and ferny dells And village streets the clamant bells Are calling souls to God!
THE YOUNG LIEUTENANT.
THE young lieutenant's face was grey. As came the day. The watchers saw it lifting white And ghostlike from the pool of night. His eyes were wide and strangely lit. Each thought in that unhallowed pit: "I, too, may seem like one who dies With wide, set eyes."
He stood so still we thought it death, For through the breath Of reeking shell we came, and fire, To hell, unlit, of blood and mire. Tianced in a chill delirium We wondered, though our lips were dumb What precious thing his fingers pressed Against his breast.
His left hand clutched so lovingly What none might see. All bloodless were his lips beneath The straight, white, rigid clip of teeth. His eyes turned to the distance dim; Our sleepless eyes were all on him. He stirred; we aped a phantom cheer. The hour was here!
The young lieutenant blew his call. "God keep us all!" He whispered softly. Out he led; And over the vale of twisted dead, Close holding that dear thing, he went. On through the storm we followed, bent To pelt of iron and the rain Of flame and pain.
His wan face like a lodestar glowed Down that black road, And deep among the torn and slain We drove, and twenty times again He squared us to the charging hordes. His word was like a hundred swords. And still a hand the treasure pressed Against his breast.
Our gain we held. Up flamed the sun. "The ridge is won," He calmly said, and, with a sigh, "Thank God, a man is free to die!" He smiled at this, and so he passed. His secret prize we knew at last, For through his hand the jewel's red, Fierce lustre bled.
THE ONE AT HOME.
DON told me that he loved me dear Where down the range Whioola pours; And when I laughed and would not hear He flung away to fight the wars. He flung away—how should he know My foolish heart was dancin' so? How should he know that at his word My soul was trillin' like a bird?
He went out in the cannon smoke. He did not seek to ask me why. Again each day my poor heart broke To see the careless post go by. I cared not for their Emperors— For me there was this in the wars; My brown boy in the shell-clouds dim, And savage devils killin' him!
They told me on the field he fell, And far they bore him from the fight, But he is whole—he will be well Now in a ward by day and night A fair, tall nurse with slim, neat hands By his white bedside smilin' stands; His brow with trailin fingertips She soothes, and damps his fevered lips!
I know her not, but I can see How blue her great eyes are, and hear The cooin' of her voice as she Speaks gentle comfort to my dear; With love as sweet as mother's care She heals his wounds, she strokes his hair... O God, could I but let him see The hate of her consumin' me!
THE HAPLESS ARMY
"A soldier braving disease and death on the battlefield has a seven times better chance of life than a new-born baby."—Secretary of War, U.S.A.
THE Hapless Army from the dark That lies beyond creation, All blinded by the solar spark, And leaderless in lands forlorn, Come stumbling through the mists of morn; And foes in close formation, With taloned fingers dripping red, Bestrew the sodden world with dead.
The Hapless Army bears no sword; Fell destiny fulfilling, It marches where the murder horde, Amid the fair new urge of life, With poison stream, and shot, and knife, Make carnival of killing. No war above black Hell's abyss Knows evil grim and foul as this.
In pallid hillocks lie the slain The callous heaven under; Like twisted hieroglyphs of pain They fleck earth to oblivion's brink, As far as human mind may think, Accusing God with thunder Of dreadful silence. Nought it serves— Fate ever calls the doomed reserves!
Still with Death's own monotony The innocents are falling, Like dead leaves in a forest dree; And still the conscript armies come. No banners theirs, no beat of drum, No merry bugles calling! Mad ally in the Slayers' train, Man slaps and sorrows for the slain!