Teeth-Setting

A poem by R. C. Lehmann

(1914)

When the thunder-shaking German hosts are marching over France -
Lo, the glinting of the bayonet and the quiver of the lance! -
When a rowdy rampant KAISER, stout and mad and middle-aged,
Strips his breast of British Orders just to prove that he's enraged;
When with fire and shot and pillage
He destroys each town and village;
When the world is black with warfare, then there's one thing you must do:
Set your teeth like steel, my hearties, and sit tight and see it through.


Oh, it's heavy work is fighting, but our soldiers do it well -
Lo, the booming of the batteries, the clatter of the shell! -
And it's weary work retiring, but they kept a dauntless front,
All our company of heroes who have borne the dreadful brunt.
They can meet the foe and beat him,
They can scatter and defeat him,
For they learnt a steady lesson (and they taught a lesson, too),
Having set their teeth in earnest and sat tight and seen it through.

Then their brothers trooped to join them, taking danger for a bride,
Not in insolence and malice, but in honour and in pride;
Caring nought to be recorded on the muster-roll of fame,
So they struck a blow for Britain and the glory of her name.
Toil and wounds could but delight them,
Death itself could not affright them,
Who went out to fight for freedom and the red and white and blue,
While they set their teeth as firm as flint and vowed to see it through.

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