How Herman Won The Cross

A poem by Edward Dyson

Once in a blue eternity they gave us dabs of rum
To close the seams 'n' keep the flume in liquor-tight condition;
But, soft 'n' sentimental, when the long, cold evenin's come,
I'd dream me nibs was dronking' to the height of his ambition,
With rights of suction over all the breweries there are,
Where barrels squat, like Brahma gods, in Mother Hardy's bar.

I had me fit of longin' on the night the Germans came,
All breathin' lioke a gas attack. The air was halcholic.
We smelt 'em in the darkness, 'n' our rage went up in flame.
It was envy, squealin' envy, put the ginger in the frolic.
We shot 'em full of spelter, then went over it to spite
The swines what drunk the liquor that was ours by common right.

“If this ain't stopped, 'n' quick,” sez we, “there won't be left a drop
To celebrate the vict'ry when we capture their position.”
I'm prowlin' blind, when sharp there comes a fond, familiar plop
Swung round a post, a German in a pitiful condition
Looms over me. He's sprung a cork, and shales a flask on high,
'N' sings of beer that touchin' it would make a butcher cry.

Sez he: “Berloffed kamarid, you haf some drinks mit you.”
I meant to spike him where he waved, but altered me intention.
'N' “If you put it thus,” sez I, “I don't care if I do.”
We had a drink together. There's a tempor'y suspension
Of hostilities to sample contraband 'n' other stuff
In the enemy's possession. Which I think he's had enough.

That Hun had thirty pockets, 'n' he'd stowed a flask in each,
'N' presently I'm thinkin' I could love him like a brother.
He's talkin' fond 'n' friendly in outlandish parts of speech.
“You're prisoner of war,” I sez; 'n' then we had another.
Ten flasks he pours into his hat, 'n' fills it to the brim,
'N' weeps 'n' sez his frau she will be waitin' up for him.

We drink each other's health, 'n' know no henmity nor fear.
I see I've got to pinch him, but he's out to do his div. in,
'N' don't care if he don't go home till daylight doth appear.
Sez he: “I pud you home to bed upside dot 'ouse you live in.”
He shakes his finger in me eye: “Mein friendt, you're preddy trunk!”
Then arm in arm through No Man's land we does a social bunk.

There's Fear afoot. Comes more than once the glug of sudden death.
We're rockin' fine 'n' careless where the rifle fire is breakin',
'N' singin' most uproar'ous, in the bomb's disgustin' breath,
Of girls, 'n' drink, 'n' cheerful sprees, 'n' 'Herman thinks he's takin'
A cobber home to somewhere in an subbub damp 'n' dim,
Whereas I know fer certain it is me is takin' him.

Somehow, sometime, I lands him where he's safely put to bed.
I wake nex' day, 'n' holy smoke! I'm prisoner with the German.
Me mouth is like an ashpan, there's hot fish-bolts in me head,
'N' through the barb-wire peerin' is me foreigh cobber 'Erman.
“Ve capdure each lasd nighd,” sez he “you home haf bring me, boss.”
For bravery in takin' me, he got the Iron Cross!

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