[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Stifled

We are jammed up, by the mute, stubborn desire that we fail;
stifled. It’s hard even to exhale or inhale.

I’d love a fight, of swinging fists, of sweating damp
shoulders, of panting oaths and thudding blows—
anything is better than this slow and muffled cramp.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” yet every venture
is coiled, tied down and snubbed in filaments of delay.
We were not born for this, to have all that we essay
subjected to a cold-eyed banker’s censure.

Pilgrims we were, and progress was our due:
new worlds to conquer; fresh wind across our bows;
far horizons sought and claimed and new.

But no. Stopped, stuffed and stifled we stall,
ensnared by men determined to be small.

"Anonymous Member of the U.S. Congress"
–from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Command of the Air

A thousand years between the sun and sea
Britannia held her court of liberty,
And cradled heroes in the questing waves
That were for lesser men but wandering graves.

Then did the British airman's sea-born skill
Teach wood and metal to foresee his will;
In every cog and joint his spirit stirred;
The Thing possessed was man as well as bird.

A falcon among timorous fowl he flies,
And bears Britannia's battle to the skies;
Vainly the Hun seeks covert in a cloud -
The clinging mist is made his ghostly shroud.

Thus at the ringing gates of heaven's glory
Begin new chapters of our island-story,
And clarion voices of the void declare:
"She who has ruled the sea shall rule the air."

by O.
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Death of the Zeppelin

A false, false night! Across the sightless sky
Passed and repassed, again and yet again,
A many-flickering smile of irony,
The hieroglyphic of an evil thought.
A few pale stars glistened like drops of sweat
On the brow o' the east... There was no wind -
The wind that was not whispered in the ear
Strange, crimson syllables of gathering doom;
Dread, flaming obsequies were in the eye
Before the fiery pencil traced them out;
And still the omens held, and still was heard
The voice of silence, the unspoken word.

At last! At last the winged Worm draws near,
The vulture-ship that dare not voyage by day,
The man-made Dinosaur that haunts the night,
The beast-like creature of a bestial mind,
Which preys by choice on small and innocent lives,
Drinking its blood well soothed with mothers' milk -
Whose reeking weapons scandalise the stars,
And do most foully wrong the sanctuary
Of God's tempestuous angels, the bright winds,
That haste about the globe at His behest.
Above the violet verge of the low east
This blind and obscene head of frightfulness
Was suddenly thrust. We marked its course afar
By dull pulsations of the eager guns,
The grey, lean warders of far-listening London;
By bursts of shell-fire, mimic Leonids,
Flame-petal'd stars all blossoming blood-red.
The harassed Worm sought covert in a cloud
Which, soon disparted, gave him for a prey
To the implacable airman hovering near
(His battle-plane was part of him that hour;
In every cog and joint his valour moved,
The thing possessed was man as well as bird)
Who pierced his bowels with a fiery bolt.
The Monster writhed in self-engendered flames
Which brake forth in the likeness of a rose,
A rose-white passion in the timeless night,
A torch of hell brandished at heaven's gate,
A piercing wonder in the million eyes
Of waking London... At last he dropped,
A sombre coal of fading crimson fire,
Into his burial-place, a field defiled.
And then, but not till then, arose the cry,
Prolonged, unpitying, a cordite cheer
Of the old valiant city, stark as Time,
Which wills not mercy for the merciless.
Beyond the storied stream a bower of trees
Caught it and cast it back, through all their leaves
Thrilled with a vocal joy of vengeance due,
Paid but in part, which shall be paid in full.

By 'O.'
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Labor
(A parody upon a poem by Rudyard Kipling; author unknown. The poem is frequently, but incorrectly, attributed to Mr. Kipling)

We have fed you all for a thousand years,
And you hail us still unfed,
Tho’ there’s never a dollar of all your wealth
But marks the workers’ dead.
We have yielded our best to give you rest,
And you lie on crimson wool;
For if blood be the price of all your wealth
Good God, we ha’ paid in full!

There’s never a mine blown skyward now
But we’re buried alive for you;
There’s never a wreck drifts shoreward now
But we are its ghastly crew;
Go reckon our dead by the forges red,
And the factories where we spin.
If blood be the price of your cursed wealth
Good God, we ha’ paid it in!

We have fed you all for a thousand years,
For that was our doom, you know,
From the days when you chained us in your fields
To the strike of a week ago.
You ha’ eaten our lives and our babies and wives,
And we’re told it’s your legal share;
But, if blood be the price of your lawful wealth,
Good God, we ha’ bought it fair!

Anonymous
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Winter

Wind piercing, hill bare, hard to find shelter;
Ford turns foul, lake freezes.
A man could stand on a stalk.

Wave on wave cloaks the land's edge;
Shrill the shrieks from the peaks of the mountain;
One can scarce stand outside.

Cold the lake-bed from winter's blast;
Dried reeds, stalk broken;
Angry wind, woods stripped naked.

Cold bed of fish beneath a screen of ice;
Stag lean, stalks bearded;
Short evening, trees bent over.

Snow is falling, white the soil.
Soldiers go not campaigning.
Cold lakes, their color sunless.

Snow is falling, white hoar-frost.
Shield idle on an old shoulder.
Wind intense, shoots are frozen.

Snow is falling upon the ice.
Wind is sweeping thick tree-tops.
Shield bold on a brave shoulder.

Snow is falling, cloaks the valley.
Soldiers hasten to battle.
I go not, a wound stays me.

Snow is falling on the slope.
Stallion confined; lean cattle.
No summer day is today.

Snow is falling, white the mountain's edge.
Ship's mast bare at sea.
A coward conceives many schemes.

-Anonymous
(Welsh, 11th century)
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Red Tape

Said the Officer Commanding, “’Tis a pleasant Winter day
And I want a heap of blankets and I want ‘em right away
And I want a lot of uniforms and overcoats and boots
To preserve the Martial Vigour of our promising recruits
For Napoleon, or Hannibal, or Caesar, I am told
Found soldiers fought much better when protected from the cold
And I trust my Observations are in Military Form
But I love my little Army, and I’d like to have it warm.”

And the Quartermaster answered with a wan official smile
“I shall send a Requisition in the Legal Form and Style
To the Acting Tenth Assistant in the Board of Speed Control
Who will docket it and poke it in the Proper Pigeonhole
When the eighteenth Under-Deputy has found it hiding there
He will specify and advertise with Customary Care
So, in time, they’ll give a contract - though I cannot tell you when
But I think you’ll get your blankets when the robins nest again.

Said the Officer Commanding, as he pulled his graying hair
“I should like to have some Rifles, if you have a few to spare
I should like to have some Cannon and a ton or so of Shell
Just any kind that’s shootable will answer very well
For hostile guns are hurling Shot with personal intent
And Etiquette demands that we return the compliment.
Besides, they say that Wellington and Grane, and several more
Considered Weapons requisite to Victory in War.”

Said the Second Chief Retarder of the Board of War Delay
“We appreciate your ardour, but, you know, this isn’t play
Through the skill of chosen experts, by applying every test
We must zealously determine what Invention is the best
Should the fortunate inventor be a personable man
Whom the Board delights to honour, we shall formulate a plan
Thus, observing Due Precautions, we shall bear your case in mind
And I’m sure you’ll have your cannon when the peace is being signed.”

What a lesson to a Nation, eager, tense, and passion-flushed
Is a smoothly working Bureau that refuses to be rushed
With its calm, divine, aloofness, with its cold, judicial Staff
Like a great MIll, grinding grandly, though the Grist thereof be Chaff!
Pleas are fultile, needs are nothing, haste or change means Waste of Force
Men may starve or die, but matters still must take their course
Patience, patience! Great the system - slow, at times, yet sure as fate
What a pity, shame, and outrage that the enemy won’t wait.

Anonymous
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Battle of the Falkland Isles

The Isle Juan Fernandez off Valparaiso Bay,
'Twas there that Cradock sought
The action that he fought -
For he said: "To run from numbers is not our English way,
Nor do we question why
We are fore-ordained to die."
Though his guns were scooping water and his tops were blind with spray.

In the red light of the sunset his ships went down in flame,
He and his brave men
Were never seen again,
And Von Spee he stroked his beard, and said: "Those Englishmen are game,
But their dispositions are
More glorious than war;
Those that greyhounds set on mastiffs are surely much to blame."

Then the Board of Admiralty to Sir Doveton Sturdee said:
"Take a proper naval force
And steer a sou'west course,
And show the world that England is still a Power to dread."
Like scorpions and whips
Was vengeance to his ships,
And Cradock's guiding spirit flew before their line ahead.

Through tropic seas they shore like a meteor through the sky,
And the dolphins in their chase
Grew weary of the race;
The swift grey-pinioned albatross behind them could not fly,
And they never paused to rest
Upon the ocean's breast
Till their southern shadows lengthened and the Southern Cross rode high.

Then Sir Doveton Sturdee said in his flagship captain's ear:
"By yon kelp and brembasteen
'Tis the Falkland Isles, I ween,
Those mollymauks and velvet-sleeves they signal land is near,
Give your consorts all the sign
To swing out into line,
And keep good watch 'twixt ship and ship till Graf van Spee appear."

The Germans like grey shadows came stealing round the Horn,
Or as a wolf-pack prowls
With blood upon its jowls,
Their sides were pocked with gun-shots and their guns were battle-worn,
And their colliers down the wind
Like jackals trailed behind,
'Twas thus they met our cruisers on a bright December morn.

Like South Atlantic rollers half a mile from crest to crest
Breaking on basalt rocks
In thunderous battle-shocks,
So our heavy British metal put their armour to the test.
And the Germans hurried north,
As our lightnings issued forth,
But our battle-line closed round them like a sickle east and west.

Each ship was as a pillar of grey smoke on the sea,
Or mists upon a fen,
Till they burst forth again
From their wraiths of battle-vapour by wind and speed made free;
Three hours the action sped,
Till, plunging by the head,
The Scharnhorst drowned the pennant of Admiral von Spee.

At the end of two hours more her sister ship went down
Beneath the bubbling wave,
The Gneisenau found her grave,
And Nurnberg and Leipzig, those cities of renown,
Their cruiser god-sons, too,
Were both pierced through and through,
There was but one of all five ships our gunners did not drown.

'Twas thus that Cradock died, 'twas thus Von Spee was slain,
'Twas thus that Sturdee paid
The score those Germans made,
'Twas thus St. George's Ensign was laundered white again,
Save the Red Cross over all
The graves of those who fall,
That England as of yore may be Mistress of the Main.

by I. C.

Battle of the Falkland Islands, December 8, 1914
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Who is in Charge of the Clattering Train?

Who is in charge of the clattering train?
The axles creak and the couplings strain,
And the pace is hot, and the points are near,
And Sleep has deadened the driver's ear;
And the signals flash through the night in vain,
For Death is in charge of the clattering train.

-- Anonymous
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Sing a Song of Europe

Sing a song of Europe, highly civilized,
Four and twenty nations wholly hypnotised,
When the battle opens, the bullets start to sing -
Isn't it a silly way to act for any King?

The Kings are in the background, issuing commands,
The Queens are in the parlours, per etiquette's demand;
The bankers in the country house are busy multiplying
The common people at the front are doing all the dying.

Anonymous
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Battle of Bridgewater

O'er Huron's wave the sun was low,
The weary soldier watch'd the bow
Fast fading from the cloud below
The dashing of Niagara.
And while the phantom chain'd his sight,
Ah! little thought he of the fight -
The horrors of the dreamless night,
That posted on so rapidly.

Soon, soon is fled each softer charm;
The drum and trumpet sound alarm,
And bid each warrior nerve his arm
For boldest deeds of chivalry;
The burning red-cross, waving high,
Like meteor in the evening sky,
Proclaims the haughty foemen nigh
To try the strife of rivalry.

Columbia's banner floats as proud,
Her gallant band around it crowd,
And swear to guard or make their shroud
The starred flag of liberty.
"Haste, haste thee, Scott, to meet the foe,
And let the scornful Briton know,
Well strung the arm and firm the blow
Of him who strikes for liberty."

Loud, loud the din of battle rings,
Shrill through the ranks the bullet sings,
And onward fierce each foeman springs
To meet his peer in gallantry.
Behind the hills descends the sun,
The work of death is but begun,
And red through twilight's shadows dun
Blazes the vollied musketry.

"Charge, Miller, charge the foe once more."
And louder than Niagara's roar
Along the line is heard, encore,
"On, on to death or victory."
From line to line, with lurid glow,
High arching shoots the rocket's bow,
And lights the mingled scene below
Of carnage, death, and misery.

The middle watch has now begun,
The horrid battle-fray is done,
No longer beats the furious drum,
To death, to death or victory.
All, all is still - with silent tread
The watchman steals among the dead,
To guard his comrade's lowly bed,
Till morning gave him sepulture.

Low in the west, of splendour shorn,
The midnight moon with bloody horn
Sheds her last beam on him, forlorn,
Who fell in fight so gloriously;
Oh! long her crescent wax and wane
Ere she behold such fray again,
Such dismal night, such heaps of slain,
Foe mix'd with foe promiscuously.

Anonymous (War of 1812)

The Battle of Lundy's Lane, July 25, 1814
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

Louis Tikas, Ludlow Martyr

Who knows what deeds in ancient days
Gave impulse, yearnings, tendencies?
Who knows what blood flowed in his veins?
Perhaps the blood of Pericles.

He braved the assailants' iron might,
Their brutal hate, unbridled, wild;
His trust, the miners' naked home;
His care, the mother and her child.

And men in stress of coming days
Shall win by strength his spirit gives;
Who so for justice yield his life,
He, dying, yet, immortal lives.

Oh, Louis Tikas, gallant soul,
Defender of the helpless, weak;
Knight of humanity, you were
More than American or Greek.

Heroic spirits of all time
Attest your manhood's strong avail;
Extend warm hand-clasps as they cry:
"Good brother, noble comrade, hail!"

Anonymous, United Mine Workers, 1914

Ludlow Massacre, April 20, 1914

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Red Tape

Said the Officer Commanding, “’Tis a pleasant Winter day
And I want a heap of blankets and I want ‘em right away
And I want a lot of uniforms and overcoats and boots
To preserve the Martial Vigour of our promising recruits
For Napoleon, or Hannibal, or Caesar, I am told
Found soldiers fought much better when protected from the cold
And I trust my Observations are in Military Form
But I love my little Army, and I’d like to have it warm.”

And the Quartermaster answered with a wan official smile
“I shall send a Requisition in the Legal Form and Style
To the Acting Tenth Assistant in the Board of Speed Control
Who will docket it and poke it in the Proper Pigeonhole
When the eighteenth Under-Deputy has found it hiding there
He will specify and advertise with Customary Care
So, in time, they’ll give a contract - though I cannot tell you when
But I think you’ll get your blankets when the robins nest again.

Said the Officer Commanding, as he pulled his graying hair
“I should like to have some Rifles, if you have a few to spare
I should like to have some Cannon and a ton or so of Shell
Just any kind that’s shootable will answer very well
For hostile guns are hurling Shot with personal intent
And Etiquette demands that we return the compliment.
Besides, they say that Wellington and Grane, and several more
Considered Weapons requisite to Victory in War.”

Said the Second Chief Retarder of the Board of War Delay
“We appreciate your ardour, but, you know, this isn’t play
Through the skill of chosen experts, by applying every test
We must zealously determine what Invention is the best
Should the fortunate inventor be a personable man
Whom the Board delights to honour, we shall formulate a plan
Thus, observing Due Precautions, we shall bear your case in mind
And I’m sure you’ll have your cannon when the peace is being signed.”

What a lesson to a Nation, eager, tense, and passion-flushed
Is a smoothly working Bureau that refuses to be rushed
With its calm, divine, aloofness, with its cold, judicial Staff
Like a great MIll, grinding grandly, though the Grist thereof be Chaff!
Pleas are fultile, needs are nothing, haste or change means Waste of Force
Men may starve or die, but matters still must take their course
Patience, patience! Great the system - slow, at times, yet sure as fate
What a pity, shame, and outrage that the enemy won’t wait.

Anonymous
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Young Albert

At Buckingham Palace, in London,
Where King and his Missus hang out,
Young Albert the Engineer went for a do.
There was champagne and oysters and stout.

Now Albert, he was a hero,
And many a brave deed had done;
With his stick with the horse's head handle,
The Battle of Dunkirk he'd won.

The ship which bore Albert to glory
Was His Majesty's trawler, Lord Grey,
And over the ocean he steamed in her
A-knocking and pulsing her way.

And sometimes the engines would falter
And steamboat would stop with a bump
But with horse's head handle he'd fix it
And muck up the leave, like a chump.

When Winston got wind of his actions
At Zeebrugge, Dunkirk and Bordeaux,
He asked that t'King, as a favour,
A medal on Albert bestow.

When the King saw young Albert at Palace,
To the Queen he turned round and said: `Lass,
Yon must be young Albert what's winning t'war,
Put the lad some champagne in a glass.'

As the King was the medal about to bestow
With gesture both noble and great,
Young Albert, with stick held tight in his hand,
Said, `Thanks King. Meet Murdo the mate.'

As Mate told t'King the full story
Of how Albert was winning the war,
Young Albert was winking at Lady Ramsbottom,
What he'd met at t'King's Head before.

On Albert's chest dangles a medal
All shiny and gradely and new
Which he wears on his suit with gold badges
From Fleming's at two pounds two.

And now when he visits the King's Head,
Where once he'd partake of a stout,
He gets Guinness and potted meat sandwiches
And pasties and trotters for nowt.

Anonymous
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
General Augustus Moore O'Toole
(People whom we have no business to criticize)

Generals are chosen, I am told
For being very, very old
And no exception to the rule
Was General Augustus Moore O'Toole
Who'd lived retired from Public Scrutiny
Since just before the Indian Mutiny.

In ancient days, as I have heard
He'd led the gallant umpty-third
To somewhere in Afghanistan
Where they'd been butchered to a man.

Since then he had not been employed
Whene'er the General was annoyed
Throughout the club they heard the tale
The very waiters hearts would quail
To hear his voice explaining more of his
Grievances against the War Office.

Though loud the other members snore
Augustus hears the Trump of War
Straightway he sallies out to find
Employment of a martial kind

For months in vain he haunts Whitehall
They did not want him there at all
The man who sees the visitors
Would take and put him out of doors
Girl messengers, both pert and prim
Would turn their noses up at him
Forgetting, as it seems to me
The simplest rules of Courtesy.

No matter how the vulgar sneer
Success is theirs who persevere
Thus after many months rebuff
Someone at last digs deep enough
To unearth Augustus - and so he
Once more becomes a B.G.C.*
Although approaching ninety-two
He buckles on his sword anew
To teach the temerarious Hun
The things he learnt in '41**
(Notice the picture we have here
- A portrait of the Brigadier
Softening the hardships of campaign
With magnums of the best champagne
While he is aided in supportin' 'em
By boxes sent from Mr Fortnum.)

The aim for which each general strives
Is losing other peoples lives
And, no exception to the rule
Was General Augustus Moore O'Toole
When they had no more men to spare
They sent him back to St Omer
Where he counts Mules all afternoon
Though they have promised very soon
To let him, as a mild relief
Count countless tins of bully-beef.

Hardly a job - as you'll agree
Consonant with his Dignity
And also just a trifle dear
At some three thousand pound a year.***

Anonymous

* Brigadier General Commanding.

** This would be 1841

*** £3000 in 1916 would be about £150,000 in today's money
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Ten Little Pilot Boys

Ten little Pilot Boys, one shot a fancy line:
Fifth Columnists were listening and then there were nine.
Nine little Pilot Boys, one had a heavy date:
The girl was paid by Germany and then there were eight.
Eight little Pilot Boys, one used a 'phone to Devon:
The line was an open one and then there were seven.
Seven little Pilot Boys, one thought his drinks he'd mix:
He talked too much when he was tight, then there were six
Six little Pilot Boys, in a West- End "dive”:
One showed off to a new-found friend, then there were five.
Five little Pilot Boys, discussing fighter lore:
One discussed it much too loud, then there were four.
Four little Pilot Boys, one posted oversea.
Sent a postcard to his home, then there were three.
Three little Pilot Boys, one talked about a 'do':
The news was passed across to France, then there were two.
Two little Pilot Boys, eager for some fun:
One spoke about his next day job. then there was one.
One little Pilot Boy, his mother's favourite son:
She showed his letters to her friends, then there were none.
Ten little Pilot Boys have gone into obscurity,
For paying no attention to that vital word, 'Security'.
All the little Pilot Boys are wiped clean off the map.
Because some people will not learn to shut their bloody trap.

from the pages of 'TEE EMM'
(the 'classified' Aircrew Training publication)
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Pilot Officer Prune

This is the tale of P.O. Prune,
Now in hospital in Frome
Who, though industrious and keen,
The type who keeps his buttons clean
Earned for himself a bitter fate,
Because he could not concentrate.

Although he always tried his best
To be efficient (like the rest)
He simply hadn’t got the skill
To concentrate on COCKPIT DRILL.
He tried mnemonics, used to sit,
For ages memorising it.
But once inside the aeroplane,
He just forgot it all again
The inter-com, the airscrew pitch,
The warning indicator switch
The flaps, the elevator trim,
Were one and all alike to him.

He happened, then, in course of time
To muddle up this pantomime
Whilst coming in to land one day,
In (what he thought) the usual way
He accidently pulled the catch,
That jettisons the exit hatch
It quite surprised him when he saw
His gunner vanish throught the floor
Then hurtle downwards through the air,
To burst inside the signal square.

Poor P.O. Prune in pensive mood,
Forgot to check his altitude
And at a hundred miles per hour
He cannoned off the water tower
Mowed down an Orderly Parade,
Then hit the deck and ricochetted
Right through the Mess, wherein a bunch
Of Officers were taking lunch.

Imagine then the screams and groans,
The crunching sound of splintered bones
The shattered glass, the ruptured seams,
The tangled mass of twisted beams
The debris scattered everywhere.
It was a terrible affair.

When all was clear they took the dead
And heaped them in the tractor shed
They counted them and found at length
That fully half the ration strength
Were incapacitated, or
Revolting messes on the floor.

From ‘midst the havoc he had wrought
They dug Prune from his Juggernaut
The doctor hastily arrived -
And found, alas, he had survived.
Next day Group Captain Cholmondly-Pym
Severely reprimanded him
A punishment both wise and just
For pilots in the Service must
(Lest they should share P.O. Prune’s fate)
Be capable and CONCENTRATE.

-Anonymous

[Anyone in the Air Force during the Second World War will instantly recognise Prune as a fictitional, cartoon character (created by Bill (Raff) Hooper) who appeared in a pamphlet called Tee Emm (Short for Technical Memorandum). He was the buffoon who got everything wrong in order for the manual to explain what was right or correct. Tee Emm was written by the staff of the magazine Punch (and particularly Anthony Armstrong), who had been seconded to the Air Ministry for the duration of the war to make technical manuals readable. Even today these manuals make entertaining reading.]
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Kentucky Volunteer: By A Lady

And who supplies the murderous steel?
And who prepares the base reward
That wakes to deeds of desperate zeal
The fury of each slumbering horde?
From Britain comes each fatal blow;
From Britain, still our deadliest foe.
Kentuckian song: "Remember the Raisin"
How dread was the conflict, how bloody the fray,
Told the banks of the Raisin at the dawn of day;
While the gush from the wounds of the dying and dead
Had thaw'd for the warrior a snow-sheeted bed.
But where is the pride that a soldier can feel,
To temper with mercy the wrath of the steel,
While Procter, victorious, denies to the brave
Who had fallen in battle, the gift of a grave?

Traditional (War of 1812)
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Fort Over Against The Oakwood

The fort over against the oakwood,
It was Bruidge’s, it was Cathal’s,
It was Áed’s, it was Ailill’s,
It was Conaing’s, it was Cuilíne’s
and it was Máel Dúin’s.
The fort remains after each king in turn,
and the hosts sleep in the ground.

Anonymous

Ind ráith i comair in dairfedo,
ba Bruidgi, ba Cathail,
ba hÁedo, ba hAilello,
ba Conaing, ba Cuilíni,
ocus ba Máele Dúin.
Ind ráith d’éis cach ríg ar úair,
ocus int slúaig foait i n-úir.
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

A New Song, Written By A Soldier

My time it has expired all on the tenth of June,
Where the pretty birds were singing, and flowers in their bloom,
Where the pretty birds were singing, so sweet from ev'ry tree,
Farewell unto the army, where they beat the reveille.

And to you my lovely officers, a word I have to say,
Before you go to battle, consider well I pray,
See how you kept our wages back, and robbed us of our clothes,
That we so dearly paid for in hard fatiguing blows.

And to you my lovely officers, those lines were written for,
I'd have you to pray for a short and moderate war,
Pray for the strength of Sampson and great King David slight,
For there's scarcely one to twenty of you that's courage enough to fight.

Hear a word unto our counsel, that rules through every state,
I pray be honest-hearted, for knavery I hate,
Try for once to do justice, be liberal and free,
Deal fairly with a soldier, and he'll deal fair with thee.

What think you of a soldier that fights for liberty,
Do you think he fights for money, or to set his country free?
I'd have you consider, and bear it on your mind,
Lest you should want their help again, it might be hard to find.

Our officers on the right of us, our country on the left,
Our enemy in front of us a-firing at our breasts,
The devil he comes up behind, and brings up the rear,
And a soldier that escapes them all has never need to fear.

My time it has expired, my song is at an end,
Here's a health to General Washington and every soldier's friend,
And he that cheats a soldier out of his little pay,
May the devil take him on his back, to hell with him straightway.

Anonymous


The mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line began on New Year's Day, 1781. The accumulated grievances concerning food, clothing, quarters, pay, etc., together with claims that the terms of enlistment had expired, led to the uprising. The mutiny lasted for ten days and some 1,500 Continental troops were involved in it at its high point. Many of the mutineers planned a march on Philadelphia to confront the Congress with their demands. Washington and the generals were quite concerned about checking the possible spread of the mutiny throughout the army, since there was wide-spread sympathy for the rebels. The mutiny was finally negotiated to a settlement by leaders of the uprising and the officers, but another revolt, this from New Jersey troops, followed in its wake, as a sympathy action. Eventually, four of the New Jersey mutineers were executed.

No one knows for sure which of the several mutinies, if any, gave rise to the above song. But it would be surprising if its anonymous author were not involved in one of them.

from Irwin Silber, 'Songs of Independence'

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
A New Song, Written By A Soldier

My time it has expired all on the tenth of June,
Where the pretty birds were singing, and flowers in their bloom,
Where the pretty birds were singing, so sweet from ev'ry tree,
Farewell unto the army, where they beat the reveille.

And to you my lovely officers, a word I have to say,
Before you go to battle, consider well I pray,
See how you kept our wages back, and robbed us of our clothes,
That we so dearly paid for in hard fatiguing blows.

And to you my lovely officers, those lines were written for,
I'd have you to pray for a short and moderate war,
Pray for the strength of Sampson and great King David slight,
For there's scarcely one to twenty of you that's courage enough to fight.

Hear a word unto our counsel, that rules through every state,
I pray be honest-hearted, for knavery I hate,
Try for once to do justice, be liberal and free,
Deal fairly with a soldier, and he'll deal fair with thee.

What think you of a soldier that fights for liberty,
Do you think he fights for money, or to set his country free?
I'd have you consider, and bear it on your mind,
Lest you should want their help again, it might be hard to find.

Our officers on the right of us, our country on the left,
Our enemy in front of us a-firing at our breasts,
The devil he comes up behind, and brings up the rear,
And a soldier that escapes them all has never need to fear.

My time it has expired, my song is at an end,
Here's a health to General Washington and every soldier's friend,
And he that cheats a soldier out of his little pay,
May the devil take him on his back, to hell with him straightway.

~Anonymous, 1781

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