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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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Archives > Books and Poetry > Poetry > Rhymes of a Red Cross Man (1916) > The Odyssey of 'Erbert 'Iggins

The Odyssey of 'Erbert 'Iggins

Published by Susan on 07/23/2003 (6412 reads)
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Now war is a funny thing, ain't it?
  It's the rummiest sort of a go.
For when it's most real,
It's then that you feel
  You're a-watchin' a cinema show.
'Ere's me wot's a barber's assistant.
  Hey, presto! It's somewheres in France,
And I'm 'ere in a pit
Where a coal-box 'as 'it,
  And it's all like a giddy romance.
The ruddy quick-firers are spittin',
  The 'eavies are bellowin' 'ate,
And 'ere I am cashooly sittin',
  And 'oldin' the 'ead of me mate.
Them gharstly green star-shells is beamin',
  'Ot shrapnel is poppin' like rain,
And I'm sayin': "Bert 'Iggins, you're dreamin',
  And you'll wake up in 'Ampstead again.
You'll wake up and 'ear yourself sayin':
  `Would you like, sir, to 'ave a shampoo?'
'Stead of sheddin' yer blood
In the rain and the mud,
  Which is some'ow the right thing to do;
Which is some'ow yer 'oary-eyed dooty,
  Wot you're doin' the best wot you can,
For 'Ampstead and 'ome and beauty,
  And you've been and you've slaughtered a man.
A feller wot punctured your partner;
  Oh, you 'ammered 'im 'ard on the 'ead,
And you still see 'is eyes
Starin' bang at the skies,
  And you ain't even sorry 'e's dead.
But you wish you was back in your diggin's
  Asleep on your mouldy old stror.
Oh, you're doin' yer bit, 'Erbert 'Iggins,
  But you ain't just enjoyin' the war."

"'Ang on like a hoctopus, Eddy.
  It's us for the bomb-belt again.
Except for the shrap
Which 'as 'it me a tap,
  I'm feelin' as right as the rain.
It's my silly old feet wot are slippin',
  It's as dark as a 'ogs'ead o' sin,
But don't be oneasy, my pippin,
  I'm goin' to pilot you in.
It's my silly old 'ead wot is reelin'.
  The bullets is buzzin' like bees.
Me shoulder's red-'ot,
And I'm bleedin' a lot,
  And me legs is on'inged at the knees.
But we're staggerin' nearer and nearer.
  Just stick it, old sport, play the game.

I make 'em out clearer and clearer,
  Our trenches a-snappin' with flame.
Oh, we're stumblin' closer and closer.
  'Ang on there, lad! Just one more try.
Did you say: Put you down? Damn it, no, sir!
  I'll carry you in if I die.
By cracky! old feller, they've seen us.
  They're sendin' out stretchers for two.
Let's give 'em the hoorah between us
  ('Anged lucky we aren't booked through).
My flipper is mashed to a jelly.
  A bullet 'as tickled your spleen.
We've shed lots of gore
And we're leakin' some more,
  But -- wot a hoccasion it's been!
Ho! 'Ere comes the rescuin' party.
  They're crawlin' out cautious and slow.
Come! Buck up and greet 'em, my 'earty,
  Shoulder to shoulder -- so.
They mustn't think we was down-'earted.
Old pal, we was never down-'earted.
If they arsts us if we was down-'earted
  We'll 'owl in their fyces: `No-o-o!'"

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