Click here to Download Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book by Robert W. Service Language English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 69.
I’ve tinkered at my bits of rhymes In weary, woeful, waiting times; In doleful hours of battle-din, Ere yet they brought the wounded in; Through vigils of the fateful night, In lousy barns by candle-light; In dug-outs, sagging and aflood, On stretchers stiff and bleared with blood; By ragged grove, by ruined road.
Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book by Robert W. Service
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By hearths accurst where Love abode; By broken altars, blackened shrines I’ve tinkered at my bits of rhymes. I’ve solaced me with scraps of song The desolated ways along: Through sickly fields all shrapnel-sown, And meadows reaped by death alone; By blazing cross and splintered spire, By headless Virgin in the mire; By gardens gashed amid their bloom.
By gutted grave, by shattered tomb; Beside the dying and the dead, Where rocket green and rocket red, In trembling pools of poising light, With flowers of flame festoon the night. Ah me! by what dark ways of wrong I’ve cheered my heart with scraps of song. So here’s my sheaf of war-won verse, And some is bad, and some is worse.
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And if at times I curse a bit, You needn’t read that part of it; For through it all like horror runs The red resentment of the guns. And you yourself would mutter when You took the things that once were men, And sped them through that zone of hate To where the dripping surgeons wait; And wonder too if in God’s sight War ever, ever can be right.
Yet may it not be, crime and war But effort misdirected are? And if there’s good in war and crime, There may be in my bits of rhyme, My songs from out the slaughter mill: So take or leave them as you will. The Call (France, August first, 1914) Far and near, high and clear, Hark to the call of War! Over the gorse and the golden dells, Ringing and swinging of clamorous bells.
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Praying and saying of wild farewells: War! War! War! High and low, all must go: Hark to the shout of War! Leave to the women the harvest yield; Gird ye, men, for the sinister field; A sabre instead of a scythe to wield: War! Red War! Rich and poor, lord and boor, Hark to the blast of War! Tinker and tailor and millionaire, Actor in triumph and priest in prayer, Comrades now in the hell out there, Sweep to the fire of War!
Prince and page, sot and sage, Hark to the roar of War! Poet, professor and circus clown, Chimney-sweeper and fop o’ the town, Into the pot and be melted down: Into the pot of War! Women all, hear the call, The pitiless call of War! Look your last on your dearest ones, Brothers and husbands, fathers, sons: Swift they go to the ravenous guns, The gluttonous guns of War.
Everywhere thrill the air The maniac bells of War. There will be little of sleeping to-night; There will be wailing and weeping to-night; Death’s red sickle is reaping to-night: War! War! War! Sez I: My Country calls? Well, let it call. I grins perlitely and declines wiv thanks. Go, let ’em plaster every blighted wall, ‘Ere’s ONE they don’t stampede into the ranks. Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book
Them politicians with their greasy ways; Them empire-grabbers—fight for ’em? No fear! I’ve seen this mess a-comin’ from the days Of Algyserious and Aggydear: I’ve felt me passion rise and swell, But . . . wot the ‘ell, Bill? Wot the ‘ell? Sez I: My Country? Mine? I likes their cheek. Me mud-bespattered by the cars they drive, Wot makes my measly thirty bob a week.
And sweats red blood to keep meself alive! Fight for the right to slave that they may spend, Them in their mansions, me ‘ere in my slum? No, let ’em fight wot’s something to defend: But me, I’ve nothin’—let the Kaiser come. And so I cusses ‘ard and well, But . . . wot the ‘ell, Bill? Wot the ‘ell? Sez I: If they would do the decent thing, And shield the missis and the little ‘uns.
Why, even I might shout “God save the King”, And face the chances of them ‘ungry guns. But we’ve got three, another on the way; It’s that wot makes me snarl and set me jor: The wife and nippers, wot of ’em, I say, If I gets knocked out in this blasted war? Gets proper busted by a shell, But . . . wot the ‘ell, Bill? Wot the ‘ell? Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book
Ay, wot the ‘ell’s the use of all this talk? To-day some boys in blue was passin’ me, And some of ’em they ‘ad no legs to walk, And some of ’em they ‘ad no eyes to see. And—well, I couldn’t look ’em in the face, And so I’m goin’, goin’ to declare I’m under forty-one and take me place To face the music with the bunch out there.
A fool, you say! Maybe you’re right. I’ll ‘ave no peace unless I fight. I’ve ceased to think; I only know I’ve gotta go, Bill, gotta go. My leg? It’s off at the knee. Do I miss it? Well, some. You see I’ve had it since I was born; And lately a devilish corn. (I rather chuckle with glee To think how I’ve fooled that corn.
But I’ll hobble around all right. It isn’t that, it’s my face. Oh I know I’m a hideous sight, Hardly a thing in place; Sort of gargoyle, you’d say. Nurse won’t give me a glass, But I see the folks as they pass Shudder and turn away; Turn away in distress . . . Mirror enough, I guess. I’m gay! You bet I am gay; But I wasn’t a while ago. Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book
If you’d seen me even to-day, The darndest picture of woe, With this Caliban mug of mine, So ravaged and raw and red, Turned to the wall—in fine, Wishing that I was dead. . . . What has happened since then, Since I lay with my face to the wall, The most despairing of men? Listen! I’ll tell you all. That ‘poilu’ across the way.
With the shrapnel wound in his head, Has a sister: she came to-day To sit awhile by his bed. All morning I heard him fret: “Oh, when will she come, Fleurette?” Then sudden, a joyous cry; The tripping of little feet; The softest, tenderest sigh; A voice so fresh and sweet; Clear as a silver bell, Fresh as the morning dews.
“C’est toi, c’est toi, Marcel! Mon frêre, comme je suis heureuse!” So over the blanket’s rim I raised my terrible face, And I saw—how I envied him! A girl of such delicate grace; Sixteen, all laughter and love; As gay as a linnet, and yet As tenderly sweet as a dove; Half woman, half child—Fleurette. Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book Download
“Flowers, only flowers—bring me dainty posies, Blossoms for forgetfulness,” that was all he said; So we sacked our gardens, violets and roses, Lilies white and bluebells laid we on his bed. Soft his pale hands touched them, tenderly caressing; Soft into his tired eyes came a little light; Such a wistful love-look, gentle as a blessing; There amid the flowers waited he the night.
“I would have you raise me; I can see the West then: I would see the sun set once before I go.” So he lay a-gazing, seemed to be at rest then, Quiet as a spirit in the golden glow. So he lay a-watching rosy castles crumbling, Moats of blinding amber, bastions of flame, Rugged rifts of opal, crimson turrets tumbling; So he lay a-dreaming till the shadows came.
“Open wide the window; there’s a lark a-singing; There’s a glad lark singing in the evening sky. How it’s wild with rapture, radiantly winging: Oh it’s good to hear that when one has to die. I am horror-haunted from the hell they found me; I am battle-broken, all I want is rest. Ah! It’s good to die so, blossoms all around me, And a kind lark singing in the golden West. Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book Download
“Flowers, song and sunshine, just one thing is wanting, Just the happy laughter of a little child.” So we brought our dearest, Doris all-enchanting; Tenderly he kissed her; radiant he smiled. “In the golden peace-time you will tell the story How for you and yours, sweet, bitter deaths were ours. . . . God bless little children!” So he passed to glory, So we left him sleeping, still amid the flow’rs.
There’s a drip of honeysuckle in the deep green lane; There’s old Martin jogging homeward on his worn old wain; There are cherry petals falling, and a cuckoo calling, calling, And a score of larks (God bless ’em) . . . but it’s all pain, pain. For you see I am not really there at all, not at all; For you see I’m in the trenches where the crump-crumps fall.
And the bits o’ shells are screaming and it’s only blessed dreaming That in fancy I am seeming back in old Saint Pol. Oh I’ve thought of it so often since I’ve come down here; And I never dreamt that any place could be so dear; The silvered whinstone houses, and the rosy men in blouses, And the kindly, white-capped women with their eyes spring-clear. Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book Free
And mother’s sitting knitting where her roses climb, And the angelus is calling with a soft, soft chime, And the sea-wind comes caressing, and the light’s a golden blessing, And Yvonne, Yvonne is guessing that it’s milking time. Oh it’s Sunday, for she’s wearing of her broidered gown; And she draws the pasture pickets and the cows come down.
And their feet are powdered yellow, and their voices honey-mellow, And they bring a scent of clover, and their eyes are brown. And Yvonne is dreaming after, but her eyes are blue; And her lips are made for laughter, and her white teeth too; And her mouth is like a cherry, and a dimple mocking merry Is lurking in the very cheek she turns to you.
So I walk beside her kindly, and she laughs at me; And I heap her arms with lilac from the lilac tree; And a golden light is welling, and a golden peace is dwelling, And a thousand birds are telling how it’s good to be. And what are pouting lips for if they can’t be kissed? And I’ve filled her arms with blossom so she can’t resist. Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book Free
And the cows are sadly straying, and her mother must be saying That Yvonne is long delaying . . . GOD! HOW CLOSE THAT MISSED! A nice polite reminder that the Boche are nigh; That we’re here to fight like devils, and if need-be die; That from kissing pretty wenches to the frantic firing-benches Of the battered, tattered trenches is a far, far cry.
Yet still I’m sitting dreaming in the glare and grime; And once again I’m hearing of them church-bells chime; And how I wonder whether in the golden summer weather We will fetch the cows together when it’s milking time. . . . (English voice, months later):— “OW BILL! A ROTTIN’ FRENCHY. WHEW! ‘E AIN’T ‘ARF PRIME.”
I’m gatherin’ flowers by the wayside to lay on the grave of Bill; I’ve sneaked away from the billet, ’cause Jim wouldn’t understand; ‘E’d call me a silly fat’ead, and larf till it made ‘im ill, To see me ‘ere in the cornfield, wiv a big bookay in me ‘and. For Jim and me we are rough uns, but Bill was one o’ the best; We ‘listed and learned together to larf at the wust wot comes. Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book Free
Then Bill copped a packet proper, and took ‘is departure West, So sudden ‘e ‘adn’t a minit to say good-bye to ‘is chums. And they took me to where ‘e was planted, a sort of a measly mound, And, thinks I, ‘ow Bill would be tickled, bein’ so soft and queer, If I gathered a bunch o’ them wild-flowers, and sort of arranged them round Like a kind of a bloody headpiece . . . and that’s the reason I’m ‘ere.
But not for the love of glory I wouldn’t ‘ave Jim to know. ‘E’d call me a slobberin’ Cissy, and larf till ‘is sides was sore; I’d ‘ave larfed at meself too, it isn’t so long ago; But some’ow it changes a feller, ‘avin’ a taste o’ war. It ‘elps a man to be ‘elpful, to know wot ‘is pals is worth (Them golden poppies is blazin’ like lamps some fairy ‘as lit.
I’m fond o’ them big white dysies. . . . Now Jim’s o’ the salt o’ the earth; But ‘e ‘as got a tongue wot’s a terror, and ‘e ain’t sentimental a bit. I likes them blue chaps wot’s ‘idin’ so shylike among the corn. Won’t Bill be glad! We was allus thicker ‘n thieves, us three. Why! ‘Oo’s that singin’ so ‘earty? Rhymes of a Red Cross man PDF Book Free
JIM! And as sure as I’m born ‘E’s there in the giddy cornfields, a-gatherin’ flowers like me. Quick! Drop me posy be’ind me. I watches ‘im for a while, Then I says: “Wot ‘o, there, Chummy! Wot price the little bookay?” And ‘e starts like a bloke wot’s guilty, and ‘e says with a sheepish smile: “She’s a bit of orl right, the widder wot keeps the estaminay.”
So ‘e goes away in a ‘urry, and I wishes ‘im best o’ luck, And I picks up me bunch o’ wild-flowers, and the light’s gettin’ sorto dim, When I makes me way to the boneyard, and . . . I stares like a man wot’s stuck, For wot do I see? BILL’S GRAVE-MOUND STREWN WITH THE FLOWERS OF JIM.
Of course I won’t never tell ‘im, bein’ a tactical lad; And Jim parley-voos to the widder: “Trez beans, lamoor; compree?” Oh, ‘e’d die of shame if ‘e knew I knew; but say! won’t Bill be glad When ‘e stares through the bleedin’ clods and sees the blossoms of Jim and me?