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'Tis hard to hang a husky lad...

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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.
All Entries 1997 - 2002
All Entries 2002
Odds and Ends, Other Items Of Interest About Robert


Published by Susan on 07/24/2003 (6738 reads)
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Ha! here's the second trench -- just like the first,
   Only a little more so, more "laid out";
More pounded, flame-corroded, death-accurst;
   A pretty piece of work, beyond a doubt.
Now for the third, and there your job is done,
   So on you charge. You never stop to think.
Your cursed puttee's trailing as you run;
   You feel you'd sell your soul to have a drink.
The acrid air is full of cracking whips.
   You wonder how it is you're going still.
You foam with rage. Oh, God! to be at grips
   With someone you can rush and crush and kill.
Your sleeve is dripping blood; you're seeing red;
   You're battle-mad; your turn is coming now.
See! there's the jagged barbed wire straight ahead,
   And there's the trench -- you'll get there anyhow.
Your puttee catches on a strand of wire,
   And down you go; perhaps it saves your life,
For over sandbag rims you see 'em fire,
   Crop-headed chaps, their eyes ablaze with strife.
You crawl, you cower; then once again you plunge
   With all your comrades roaring at your heels.
Have at 'em lads! You stab, you jab, you lunge;
   A blaze of glory, then the red world reels.
A crash of triumph, then . . . you're faint a bit . . .
   That cursed puttee! Now to fasten it. . . .

Well, that's the charge. And now I'm here alone.
   I've built a little wall of Hun on Hun,
To shield me from the leaden bees that drone
   (It saves me worry, and it hurts 'em none).
The only thing I'm wondering is when
   Some stretcher-men will stroll along my way?
It isn't much that's left of me, but then
   Where life is, hope is, so at least they say.
Well, if I'm spared I'll be the happy lad.
   I tell you I won't envy any king.
I've stood the racket, and I'm proud and glad;
   I've had my crowning hour. Oh, War's the thing!
It gives us common, working chaps our chance,
   A taste of glory, chivalry, romance.

Ay, War, they say, is hell; it's heaven, too.
   It lets a man discover what he's worth.
It takes his measure, shows what he can do,
   Gives him a joy like nothing else on earth.
It fans in him a flame that otherwise
   Would flicker out, these drab, discordant days;
It teaches him in pain and sacrifice
   Faith, fortitude, grim courage past all praise.
Yes, War is good. So here beside my slain,
   A happy wreck I wait amid the din;
For even if I perish mine's the gain. . . .
   Hi, there, you fellows! won't you take me in?
Give me a fag to smoke upon the way. . . .
   We've taken La Boiselle! The hell, you say!
Well, that would make a corpse sit up and grin. . . .
   Lead on! I'll live to fight another day.

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