The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

Mules

I NEVER would 'ave done it if I'd known what it would be.

I thought it meant promotion and some extra pay for me;

I thought I'd miss a drill or two with packs an' trenchin' tools,

So I said I'd 'andled horses--an' they set me 'andlin' mules.

Now 'orses they are 'orses, but a mule, 'e is a mule

(Bit o' devil, bit o' monkey, bit o' bloomin' boundin' fool!)

Oh, I'm usin' all the adjectives I didn't learn at school

On the prancin', glancin', rag--time dancin' army transport mule.

If I'd been Father Noah when the cargo walked aboard,

I'd 'ave let the bears an' tigers in, an' never spoke a word;

But I'd 'ave shoved a placard out to say the 'ouse was full,

An' shut the ark up suddent when I saw the army mule.

They buck you off when ridden they squish your leg when led;

They're mostly sittin' on their tail or standing on their 'ead;

They reach their yellow grinders out an' gently chew your ear,

An' their necks is indiarubber for attackin' in the rear.

They're as mincin' when they're 'appy as a ladies' ridin' school,

But when the fancy takes 'em they're like nothin' but a mule--

With the off wheels in the gutter an' the near wheels in the air,

An' a leg across the traces, an' the driver Lord knows where.

They're 'orrid in the stables, they're worse upon the road;

They'll bolt with any rider, they'll jib with any load;

But soon we're bound beyond the seas, an' when we cross the foam

I don't care where we go to if we leaves the mules at 'ome.

For 'orses they are 'orses, but a mule 'e is a mule

(Bit o' devil, bit o' monkey, bit o' bloomin' boundin' fool!)

Oh, I'm usin' all the adjectives I never learnt at school

On the rampin', rawboned, cast-steel-jawboned army transport mule.