six jolly soldiers to walk by my side;
let six jolly soldiers take a bunch of red roses
therefore to smell them as we move along"
--When I Was On Horseback, Irish ballad
Bored of farm, of crow, of field,
we put our shoulders to the wheel
of patriot's game and patriot's folly,
for love of King and kin, by golly.
The station's bands and bunting were fine,
with cheering sweethearts straight down the line
to see us off to who knows where,
God help the Boche when we get there.
We joined the army with our "chums",
to sound of bagpipe and of drums,
that echoed off the bricks of Dublin
to let the bastards know we're comin'.
Here's your quarters, here's your dinner,
trench and rat and all you sinners
here to fight and done by Christmas,
not knowing the endless Hell that this is.
Here, no crow, no pretty crocus,
just splintered bone and bloated horses,
just bombs that scream and hands that shake
like earth itself when bedlam breaks.
Kiss the cross, go over the top,
wish yourself back in your uncle's shop,
buck up boys, and give 'em hell,
the kind that comes when flesh meets shell.
It's not so bad, you've still one eye,
what the trenchfoot takes will always be dry.
Go home and rest on a porch so cool
to think on your glory, and quietly drool.
The sentimental rose your sweetheart sends
on a card for the hero who bravely defends
the crow, the field, the farm back home,
will make a fine ornament for his bones.
for Artistic Interpretations with Margaret, at Real Toads. The subject: flowers and their meanings.
Image at top: Irish WWI soldiers.
"Join up with your chums." WWI enlistment slogan. Men were allowed to enlist with, and serve with, their chums. Because of this, some towns and families lost an entire generation of young men when they died together on the same battlefield.
Chum, noun: a close or intimate companion. "boyhood chums."
Chum, noun: cut or ground bait dumped into the water to attract fish; fish refuse or scraps discarded by a cannery.
Chum, verb: to lure (fish) with chum. "They chummed the fish with hamburger."