The Great War

from War, The Liberator and Other Pieces, an electronic edition


" LADS, you're wanted, go and help,"

On the railway carriage wall

Stuck the poster, and I thought

Of the hands that penned the call.

Fat civilians wishing they

" Could go out and fight the Hun."

Can't you see them thanking God

That they're over forty-one?

Girls with feathers, vulgar songs--

Washy verse on England's need--

God--and don't we damned well know

How the message ought to read.

" Lads, you're wanted! over there,"

Shiver in the morning dew,

More poor devils like yourselves

Waiting to be killed by you.

Go and help to swell the names

In the casualty lists.

Help to make a column's stuff

For the blasted journalists.

Help to keep them nice and safe

From the wicked German foe.

Don't let him come over here!

" Lads, you're wanted--out you go."

There's a better word than that,

Lads, and can't you hear it come

From a million men that call

You to share their martyrdom.

Leave the harlots still to sing

Comic songs about the Hun,

Leave the fat old men to say

Now we've got them on the run.

Better twenty honest years

Than their dull three score and ten.

Lads, you're wanted. Come and learn

To live and die with honest men.

You shall learn what men can do

If you will but pay the price,

Learn the gaiety and strength

In the gallant sacrifice.

Take your risk of life and death

Underneath the open sky.

Live clean or go out quick--

Lads, you're wanted. Come and die.