The Moralist

A poem by Edward Dyson

Three other soldier blokes 'n' me packed 'ome from foreign lands;
Bit into each the God of Battles' everlastin' brands.
They limped in time, 'n' coughed in tune, 'n' one was short an ear,
'N' one was short a tier of ribs 'n' all was short of beer.
I speaks up like a temp'rance gent,
But ever since the sky was bent
The thirst of man 'as never yet bin squenched with argument.

Bill's skull was welded all across, Jim 'ad an eye in soak,
Sam 'obbled on a patent leg, 'n' every man was broke;
They sang a song of “Mother” with their faces titled up.
Says Bill-o: “'Ere's yer 'eroes, sling the bloomin' votive cup!
We got no beer, the soup was bad-
Now oo will stand the soldier lad
The swag of honest liquor that for years he hasn't 'ad?”

Sez I: “Respeck yer uniform! Remember oo you are!”
They'd pinched a wicker barrer, 'arf a pram 'n' 'arf a car.
In this ole Bill-o nestled 'neath a blanket, on his face
A someone's darlin' sorter look, a touch iv boy'ood's grace.
The gentle ladies stopped to 'ear,
'N' dropped a symperthetic tear,
A dollar or a deener for the pore haff1ict dear.

The others trucked the wounded to a hentrance up a lane.
I sez: “Sich conduck's shameful!” Bill-o took to ease his pain
One long 'un and another. The conductor picked his brand;
The gripman lent his countenance to wot he 'ad in 'and.
And when they moved their stand 'twas Sam
Lay pale 'n' peaceful in the pram,
'N' twenty flappers stroked his paw, 'n' said he was a lamb.

The gathered in the tokens and they blooed 'em as above,
While Jim-o done the hinvalid 'oom Sammy had to shove.
Sez I: “No noble 'eroes what's bin fightin' for their king
Should smirch theirselves by doin' this dis'onerable thing.”
But fine old gents 'n' donahs prim
They stopped 'n' slid the beans to Jim.
You betcher life I let 'im hear just what I though of 'im.

Nine, g.m. at St. Kilder, saw the finish of the prowl.
Each 'ad his full-'n'-plentv, and was blowin' in the tow'l.
As neither bloke cud stand alone, they leaned 'n' argufied
Which was the patient sufferer oo's turn it was to ride.
Each 'eld a san'wich and a can.
Sez I: “This shouldn't 'ave began-
'Tain't conduck wot it worthy of a soldier and a man.”

I cud 'a' cried with injured pride. Afore a push the three
Got scrappin', vague 'n' foolish, which the cripple boy should be.
Sam slips his scientific leg, 'n' flings it in the drain
“I'll auto 'ome,” he sez, “or never see me 'ome again.”
But I am thinkin' 'ard oo he
Tucked 'elpiess in the pram might be.
Comes sudden reckerlection. Great Gohanners, it is me!

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