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This poem is often wrongly thought to be by Robert W Service. It is published here to the memory of Hugh Antoine D'Arcy, its rightful father.
An Evening with the Bard of the Yukon, July 18 th 2003 at 20.30pm in the Town-Hall of Lancieux, Brittany.
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Over the Parapet

Published by Susan on 07/23/2003 (7228 reads)
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All day long when the shells sail over...

All day long when the shells sail over
   I stand at the sandbags and take my chance;
But at night, at night I'm a reckless rover,
   And over the parapet gleams Romance.
Romance! Romance! How I've dreamed it, writing
   Dreary old records of money and mart,
Me with my head chuckful of fighting
   And the blood of vikings to thrill my heart.

But little I thought that my time was coming,
   Sudden and splendid, supreme and soon;
And here I am with the bullets humming
   As I crawl and I curse the light of the moon.
Out alone, for adventure thirsting,
   Out in mysterious No Man's Land;
Prone with the dead when a star-shell, bursting,
   Flares on the horrors on every hand.

There are ruby stars and they drip and wiggle;
   And the grasses gleam in a light blood-red;
There are emerald stars, and their tails they wriggle,
   And ghastly they glare on the face of the dead.
But the worst of all are the stars of whiteness,
   That spill in a pool of pearly flame,
Pretty as gems in their silver brightness,
   And etching a man for a bullet's aim.

Yet oh, it's great to be here with danger,
   Here in the weird, death-pregnant dark,
In the devil's pasture a stealthy ranger,
   When the moon is decently hiding. Hark!
What was that? Was it just the shiver
   Of an eerie wind or a clammy hand?
The rustle of grass, or the passing quiver
   Of one of the ghosts of No Man's Land?

It's only at night when the ghosts awaken,
   And gibber and whisper horrible things;
For to every foot of this God-forsaken
   Zone of jeopard some horror clings.
Ugh! What was that? It felt like a jelly,
   That flattish mound in the noisome grass;
You three big rats running free of its belly,
   Out of my way and let me pass!

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