The Great War

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

To Basil, a Bavarian Bomber

In Memory of the Barricades in the Labyrinth

IN that remembered and unpleasant spot,

Where 'twas my task to haunt the barricade,

To hurl the bomb and give it to you hot

For every little tiny sound you made.

Oh, Basil, when at first your bombs returned,

Our martial spirits quickened and we burned

To land you one--the very batmen yearned

For that decease of yours too long delayed.

And it was very galling, when we threw

Grenades that might have chilled the stoutest's blood,

Only to hear that plaintive call from you,

Informing us it was another dud.

And when the gent from the Brigade was nigh,

Watching our Millses' fizzing through the sky,

To see you hit him neatly in the eye

With little well-aimed lumps of harmless mud.

Often men came to me and said that they

Had done you in at last and heard you yell,

But 'twas my sorrow on th' ensuing day

To hear again the voice I knew so well.

And when one night with dark and fell design

We carried out that raid upon your line,

It was with hopes, old enemy of mine,

That we should send you rapidly to hell.

But now that I am far from war's alarms

I like to muse upon the years to come

When we shall both have done with force and arms,

And Mills and Spaeter1 will alike be dumb,

And those familiar accents I shall hear.

And we shall meet, oh peerless grenadier--

What shall it be, my Basil? Whisky? Beer?

Or punch concocted out of ration rum?

I think it shall be punch; I also think

That, as we ladle down the potent brew,

Myself and you, my Basil, ought to drink

Health to the barricades at which we threw

The bomb, a much less dangerous affair,

And I at last shall down you; for whate'er

Impotent things my poor old Millses were,

My punch is not a dud, I promise you.


1. Karl Spaeter, a prominent Bosche munitioneer.