The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
A Page of Poetry
A Page of Poetry.
On The Road To Helouan,
Riding by the Nile-
Spurs a-jingle, veins a-tingle,
Prancing it in style;
Bits a-champing, laughter ramping,
Every smile a mile—
Gad! We were a merry crowd,
Such a romping, very crowd,
Such a "do and derry" crowd.
Riding by the Nile.
On the sea to Sari Bair,
And the Dardanelles—
Guns a thund'ring, blunt folt blund'ring
Through the Turkish shells.
Ranks a-thinning, yet a-grinning
In a thousand hells— O!
We were an eerie crowd,
Gaunt and grim, a weary crowd,
Yet a dev'lish cheery crowd.
In the Dardanelles.
On the road to El Arish,
And the Holy Land—
O'er the roasting sand;
Odds a-taking, records breaking
Kind o' underhand—
Such a "world-forsaken" crowd,
Dog-tired yet unshaken crowd,
A fearless and hard-baken crowd
In the Holy Land.
On the road to Jericho
Thence right up to Moab—
Bogged in cloudland and in ploughed land.
Acting up to Job;
Sleep-forgetting, grim blood-letting
Steel the only probe—
Where a grander daring crowd,
A hard-pressed, less despairing crowd,
A sterner Easter-faring crowd,
Than pierced the hills of Moab?
On the road that wanders back,
Back beside the Nile—
With many a grave to fringe the track.
And many a blood-drenched mile;
And many an old camp lonely grown
For many a passed-on life—
God! O will they ever know
All the silent derring-do,
All the deeds without the "show"
All the gallant mates laid low Since we romped to Helouan,
Riding by the Nile?
"On The Rocks"
Rocks, rocks, millions of rocks!
Jutting from Juda to cripple our rocks;
Bruising our elbows and poor horses' hocks,
Tormenting troopers till reasoning rocks!
O how did those shepherds of old feed their flocks
On rocks, rocks, Palestine rocks?
Rocks, rocks, obstinate rocks!
Each burly boulder a passage way blocks;
Pushing or pulling each effort it mocks—
Causing us oft to use language that shocks!
O' give me the patience and strength of an ox.
For rocks, rocks, Palestine rocks!
The Adjutant— my heart is nearly broke.
Romance is worse than wasted, tis no Joke.
I do believe it fills him with delight,
Upon our application forms to write—
How often have I pitched a lovely tale,
One that I'd bet a dollar couldn't fail;
Yet ere the night 'twould wander back again,
And on it I would read, with raging pain—
The yarns I told of sisters very ill,
Of Father's and my poor dear Mater's will,
Of brothers I'd not seen for the ten long years;
Yet every time the same old thing appears—
To show the unjust treatment I receive,
I've even tapped them for a marriage leave,
I've told them that my "lines" I will produce;
But all "khalass" it's not a bit of use—
Oft the jaded, broken spirit
Lightens at a careless jest.
But the true reward of merit
Is a term of needed rest.
There will be a dearth of sadness
In the music-laden breeze,
When the guns have ceased their madness,
And the soldier takes his ease.
On the eve of war's conclusion,
When the stars demurely peep,
We shall see the calm seclusion
Of the curtained halls of sleep.
It shall be our future token,
After all the bargainings
Wrought in years of strife unbroken,
When we faced the thick of things.
Never is the end uncertain,
Stripped of joy or living worth,
While there's rest behind the curtain
That is drawn across the earth.
A Palestine Idyll.
From out Beth Dagon's shade her svelte form swayed;
Balanced her head a jar of cool well-water:
Graceful and tall, she was a lissom maid,
This Plain of Sharon rose, this Canaanitish daughter.
Her dark eyes dwelt on mine, sublime and still;
I were not human had I felt no thrill.
And thus she glided, mid the golden rays
Of morning, to some vineyard or bazaar;
Her little feet scarce touched the dusty ways,
Her gaze was fixed on Judah's hills afar.
And then her hand she daintily did reach,
And, like a greedy "Gyppo", moaned "Baksheesh".
The poet mopped his heated brow, and waved an inky hand.
"I long," he said, "to leave the town and wander through the land.
I'm tired of crowded city streets, I would I were a brave
And hardy old adventurer; the open road I crave.
"I would I lived in other times when chivalry held sway;
That I did lead a troop of horse, with fluttering pennons gay;
From North to South, from East to West, no limitations know.
I would I lived in other days, the days of long ago.
"But sad am I, the days, my friend, of chivalry are dead;
And I am forced to write my verse to earn my daily bread.
I write my sonnets by the foot, my odes must be in yards,.
For I've a poetess to keep, and seven little bards'."
I grasped his hand and said "Don't let your troubles get you down".
He said I was a friend indeed, and borrowed half-a-crown.
I left him in the dusty street, and oft my thoughts have turned
Unto this scribe, this peaceful scribe, who for romance had yearned.
Upon the sands of Sinai I met again the bard
Who wrote his sonnets by the foot, whose odes were by the yard.
I paused and passed the time of day, asked was his mind at rest
Now he had travelled North and South, had travelled East and West.
I asked him did he find romance was "born again"; he sighed,
"I've never found romance at all, though everything I've tried.
It's hard to think of chivalry, the different jobs I've had.
I long now for the city streets, in town I'd ne'er be sad.
"I've been a cook, an army cook, I've been mess-ord'ly too;
It's hard to find romantic things when juggling army stew.
I seek no more the open road, no more 1 wish to trail
The roads throughout the Orient, give me the iron rail.
"I long no more for chivalry, it has been too long dead;
I'd rather be in Sydney town, and write to get my bread.
I'm tired of living in this land where lived the chosen tribes;
I'd rather have my poetess and seven little scribes."