In Hospital

A poem by Edward Dyson

It is thirty moons since I slung me hook
From the job at the hay and corn,
Took me solemn oath, 'n' I straight forsook
All the ways of life, dinkum ways 'n' crook,
'N' the things on which it was good to look
Since the day when a bloke was born.

I was give a gun, 'n' a bay'net bright,
'N' a 'ell of a swag iv work,
N' I dipped my lid to the big pub light,
To the ole push cobbers I give “Good-night!”
Slipped a kiss to 'er, 'n' I wings me flight
For a date with the demon Turk.

Ez we pricked our heel to the skitin' drum.
Square 'n' all, I was gone a mile.
With a perky air, 'n' a 'eart ez glum
Ez a long-dead cod, I was blind 'n' dumb,
Holdin' do the tear that was bound to come
At a word or a friendly smile.

Now I've seen it all, I may come out dead,
But I 'ope never more a fool.
I have scorched, 'n' thirsted, 'n' froze, 'n'
'N' bin taught the use of the human head,
For when all is done 'n' when all is said,
War's a wonderful sort of school.

I've bin taught to get 'em 'n' never fret,
'N' to sleep without dreamin' when
We have swarmed a slope with the red rain wet;
I 'ave learned a pile, 'n' I'm learnin' yet;
But the thing I've learned that I won't forget
Is a way of not judgin' men.

We was shot down there in a dirty place,
From the mansions 'n' huts we'd come,
'N' of all the welter the 'ardest case
Was a little swine with a dimpled face,
Who a year ago was dispensin' lace
In a Carlton em-por-ee-um.

In the moochin' days of me giddy youth,
When I kidded meself a treat,
I'd have pass him one ez a gooey. 'Strewth
On the track iv Huns, he's a eight-day sleuth,
'N' at tearin' into 'em nail 'n' tooth
He's got Julius Caesar beat!

I ain't proud with him ; 'n' I'm modest, too,
When dividin' a can of swill
With a Algy boy from the wilds iv Kew.
Cos I do not know what the cow will do
When a Fritzy offers to sock me through;
'N' it's good to be livin' still.

There you are, you see! Oh! it makes you sore,
When a bloke you despised at 'ome
In them pifflin' days of the years before
Takes a odds-on chance with the God of War,
'N' he tows you out with his left lung tore,
'N' a crack in his bleedin' dome!

'Twas a lad called Hugh done ez much for me.
(He has curls 'n' he's fair 'n' slim).
Well, I mind the days in the Port when we
Puts it over Hugh coz we don't agree
With his tone 'n' style, 'n' my foot was free
When the push made a hack of him.

Now he's paid me back. I had struck a snag,
And must creep through the battle spume
All a flamin' age, with a grinnin' jag
In me thigh, for water, or jest a fag.
Like a crippled snake I was forced to drag
Shattered flesh till the crack of doom.

When they saw me he was the one who came.
'N' he give me a raffish grin
'N' a swig. I wasn't so bad that shame
Didn't get me then, for the lad was lame.
They had passed him his, but his 'art was game.
'N' he coughed ez he brought me in.

I have tackled God on me bended knees,
So He'll save him alive 'n' whole,
For the sake of one who he thinks he sees
When the Nurse's hands bring a kind of ease;
And I thank God, too, for the things like these
That have give me a sort of soul.

There are Percies, Algies, 'n' Claudes I've met
Who could take it 'n' come agen,
While the bullets flew in a screamin' jet.
What in pain, 'n' death, and in mire 'n' sweat
I 'ave learned from them that I won't forget
Is a way of not judgin' men.

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