Learning about World War 1 poetry for GCSE had a huge influence on me, and is a great big reason why I’m a writer now. This one’s just about my favourite:
I mind as ‘ow the night afore that show
Us five got talking, — we was in the know,”
Over the top to-morrer; boys, we’re for it,
First wave we are, first ruddy wave; that’s tore it.”
“Ah well,” says Jimmy, — an’ ‘e’s seen some scrappin’ —
“There ain’t more nor five things as can ‘appen;
Ye get knocked out; else wounded — bad or cushy;
Scuppered; or nowt except yer feeling mushy.”
One of us got the knock-out, blown to chops.
T’other was hurt, like, losin’ both ‘is props.
An’ one, to use the word of ‘ypocrites,
‘Ad the misfortoon to be took by Fritz.
Now me, I wasn’t scratched, praise God Almighty
(Though next time please I’ll thank ‘im for a blighty),
But poor young Jim, ‘e’s livin’ an’ ‘e’s not;’
E reckoned ‘e’d five chances, an’ ‘e’s ‘ad;’
E’s wounded, killed, and pris’ner, all the lot —
The ruddy lot all rolled in one. Jim’s mad.
So when I said I’d contribute to a small collection my writing group put together for the local Poppy Appeal it felt considerably daunting.
I did my best.
HOW MANY WOMEN?
How many women;
have waved goodbye to
or son –
waved to a man
who was off to the front
that, ‘I’ll be fine,’
and, ‘Home before you know it,’
only to realise,
that that wave,
would be their last?
Feels a bit wrong putting my work next to his. Well, at least it’s under it; it knows its place.