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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 (4979 reads)
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But if there's horror, there's beauty, wonder;
   The trench lights gleam and the rockets play.
That flood of magnificent orange yonder
   Is a battery blazing miles away.
With a rush and a singing a great shell passes;
   The rifles resentfully bicker and brawl,
And here I crouch in the dew-drenched grasses,
   And look and listen and love it all.

God! What a life! But I must make haste now,
   Before the shadow of night be spent.
It's little the time there is to waste now,
   If I'd do the job for which I was sent.
My bombs are right and my clippers ready,
   And I wriggle out to the chosen place,
When I hear a rustle . . . Steady! . . . Steady!
   Who am I staring slap in the face?

There in the dark I can hear him breathing,
   A foot away, and as still as death;
And my heart beats hard, and my brain is seething,
   And I know he's a Hun by the smell of his breath.
Then: "Will you surrender?" I whisper hoarsely,
   For it's death, swift death to utter a cry.
"English schwein-hund!" he murmurs coarsely.
   "Then we'll fight it out in the dark," say I.

So we grip and we slip and we trip and wrestle
   There in the gutter of No Man's Land;
And I feel my nails in his wind-pipe nestle,
   And he tries to gouge, but I bite his hand.
And he tries to squeal, but I squeeze him tighter:
   "Now," I say, "I can kill you fine;
But tell me first, you Teutonic blighter!
   Have you any children?" He answers: "Nein."

Nine! Well, I cannot kill such a father,
   So I tie his hands and I leave him there.
Do I finish my little job? Well, rather;
   And I get home safe with some light to spare.
Heigh-ho! by day it's just prosy duty,
   Doing the same old song and dance;
But oh! with the night -- joy, glory, beauty:
   Over the parapet -- Life, Romance!


 

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