I've never had a fling at this thing
That folks call writin' an' such;
I haven't the art a genius owns
To put over the master touch.

I can only tell in a Doughboy's way,
Things that we all lived thru,
If perchance you were "O'er There,"
You'll know that they are true.

No artist, whether good or bad,
Can paint the sunset's glow;
Nor can any man who ever came back,
Describe that war and its woe.

So I lay no claim to the master's touch
In the thots, I've expressed herein;
But when you've finished reading them,
You'll know what it cost to win.

You'll know how a Doughboy feels when he fights,
And also the joys of his play;
So may you accept them just as they are,
In a Doughboy's own, crude way.

Our Commander

Six hundred strong, your boys and you,
Battle-twained in one, fast and true,
The endless nights "Over There;"
Commander! we stand heads humbly bared

Six hundred souls travel apace,
With your long silent strides thru endless space,
Your journey by love of your men is bound
As your last command falls without a sound

Six hundred men slowly bow their heads,
With hearts that are heavy our tears all shed,
Weary and heart-sick and war-twained sad
We mourn the best leader men ever had.

Six hundred strong this message we send,
"Command! we are yours unto the end."
As your great soul journeys "Up There,"
Commander! we stand heads humbly bared

Dedicated to Lieut. Col. Charles W. Whittlesey

Up There

From two short words, "Up There" we glean,
All that war can really mean,
Sounds perhaps not much to you,
Entire volume, what we've been thru.

Telling many brave and daring tale,
Of Chateau-Thierry and the Vesle,
Or Argonne Woods, that death-strewn hell,
Where hordes of our brave comrades fell.

Who gave their all, as men have done,
Ever since wars first begun,
Their blood enriching vale or hill,
Patriot's promise, or God's will.

They fell for a cause just and true,
Undying tribute is their due,
"God rest their souls," our humble prayer,
For those who gave their all---"Up There."

Dedicated to "My Buddies" who gave their all "Up There"

Memory Lane

See the sky line glowing deep crimson red,
As tho 'twere washed by blood of our dead,
The men sprawled out in two's and three's,
On that barren gut of eternity.

The gleam of a watch on some one's wrist,
Showing dim and wet thru the fog and mist,
The jagged walls of some war-laid homes,
And the shadow of men like dwarfed gnomes.

The roar of the plane and tinkle of rain,
And the gang on their way to the front again,
Another forced hike in the dead of the night,
Stragglers falling out to the left and right.

The hushed stillness as we stopped near a road,
Then a Jerry's bomber dropping his load,
A tense death-like quiet before the bomb hit,
Then mangled horses and men part of it.

Cries for first aid, the shrieks of the mules,
And we huddled there like a bunch of fools,.
Sergeant and Captain shouting for order,
An East side New Yorker yelling "It's moider."

The sea of red mud thru which we hike,
Thots of back home when a little tike,
Thots of that home and all it could be,
And me on my way to Eternity.

The clammy dampness of rain on the skin,
The dread yet the thrill of "going in,"
The rattle and whistle of shells overhead,
Thru that blood-washed sky of dull, dull, red.

The trip all alone from a runner's post,
With whispering breeze as my lonely host,
Giving the message to Post Number Three,
Then the loud bang of a shell close to me.

The waiting for dawn with heart dulled by pain,
Then "over the top" again and again,
The ripping and tearing at first-aid packs,
To bind up a Buddy hit in the back.

The men continually bunching together,
Your head feeling light as a duck's feather,
The trip-hammer clatter of hot machine guns,
The occasional glimpse of the gray-clad Huns.

The double-whirred roar of Jerry's plane,
The never ending sea of mud and the rain;
The sickening sweet smell of phosgene gas,
Holding my Buddy as he breathes his last.

Then the solemn promise to see his folks,
Just another of life's hideous jokes,
The rain dripping off my helmet in streams,
All parades thru my mind in endless dreams.

Bully Beef

Have you ever had your stomach,
In a mass of whirlin' pain,
While "doing your bit" Over There,
In the drippin' ice-cold rain.

With the mud up to your knee-caps,
And your shoes a-slushin' 'round,
On your way up to the front again,
Tired as a wind-broke hound.

Had your Serg' come runnin' yelling,
"Here comes the ration truck,"
You grabbed a can of Bully Beef,
Then sat right down in the muck.

Madly tore the tough old lid off,
With your bayonet's rusty blade,
Gulped it down in great big chunks,
And cared not how it's made.

It ironed out all the wrinkles,
And for the likes of you and me,
'Twas Bully Beef who licked the Kaiser,
And he earned a D. S. C.


While you're standing at attention,
Cooties dart and duck below,
Then your lousy Captain bawls you out,
Ain't it Hell?---Well I'll say so!

Ever have that itchy army,
Doing squads both right and left,
On your tired and aching shoulders,
Or underneath your vest?

Or in your helmet-sweated hair,
Or on your pain-racked shins?
Way the little devils pinch and bite,
Makes you feel you've paid your sins.

In the "lines" big Generals had 'em,
Every Captain raised his share,
But there was plenty hell a-poppin',
If a "Buck" had one to spare

You can have my flock of grey ones,
For I sure have had my fill;
And if Napoleon raised 'em all,
He's the bird I'd like to kill.

Rain! Rain! Rain!

Ever since I landed here,
Things have looked so dull and drear,
Wonder if this war's in vain,
Wonder why there's so much rain?

My face and hands badly peeled,
Playing "Mock War" in sodden fields,
Body aches from chills and pains,
Still it rains and rains, and rains.

Tomorrow we'll be on our way,
To "The Front" I heard them say,
Tonight we loaded on the trains,
Wonder why it rains and rains?

The guy who wrote 'bout Sunny France,
Must have been in an awful trance,
Wisht ol' sun would come peepin' thru,
Perhaps I wouldn't feel so blue.

Clouds a-skootin' fast overhead,
Hiked thru mud 'till I'm damn near dead,
Gee! I'm wet clear thru to the skin,
Wonder when we're "Goin' In"?

Earth seems to be a-quiver with fright,
Gosh, I'd like to be home tonight,
Never thot I'd be "Over Here,"
Lord, this rain makes a fellow feel queer.

Been in the lines near thirty days,
Know I'm changed in lots of ways;
Now I know why I had that trainin',
Wonder if it ever will stop rainin?

Relieved from the "lines" last night,
Gee, but this beard of mine's a fright,
Hiked a thousand kilos more,
Damn this rain it's making me sore.

Been soaking wet since September,
Here it is 'way up in November;
But now old Heinie's on the run,
Wonder if this rain's rainin' for fun?

Boys are not talking much today,
What they're thinking none can say,
Just got the news that "War is done,"
Must be right 'cause there's the ol' sun!


I've gone all day in sort of a daze,
Have felt the horror of death,
Don't mind the fight 'cause know I'm right
But I'm worried about my breath.

It feels like a ball of red-hot fire,
Turned loose from hell's own door,
There seems to be no relief for me,
It's hurting me more and more.

I can feel myself go crumpling,
And fall in a sudden heap,
Slowly the truth dawns upon me,
"Gassed last night in my sleep."

Doctor says I'll pull thru all right,
Will be good for a few more years,
I'm thinking of my mother dear,
And I just can't keep back the tears.

I've paid the debt that manhood brings,
To make an ideal stand true,
If perhaps I forget how to smile,
Remember, 'twas all for you.


Oh Boy!

Some day you'll be in your "civies,"
Struttin' your stuff down the street,
Just as sure as the stars above you,
Your favorite Lieutenant you'll meet.

Then you'll snap up to attention,
As you always did before,
But your mind has not forgotten,
The old unsettled score.

So your thots will quickly wander,
Way back to rainy France,
Your heart starts glowing happily,
For at last here is your chance.

So you'll bring your hand up smartly,
Till it's almost near your nose,
Your face breaks out in one wide grin,
As you say "Oh boy, here goes!"

The Lieutenant's face will redden,
But yours will light with joy,
It's the law of compensation,
And you earned it all my boy.

Fighting Mad

They say I'm mad, crazed by the war;
Have you been there, and if so what for?
I for one am damn sick of it all;
"Glory Democracy," just words that's all.

Fighting for what? "We don't know,"
"Hell of a mess," can tell you that though,
What do we win when we win a fight?
Buddies and Brothers missing at night.

Numb from cold with our youth gone old,
Murdering wholesale that schemers get gold,
We're fighting, cursing holding the lines,
Wallowing around like a bunch of swines.

Fed on hate that we may see red,
All we see is the wounded and dead,
Hear the crunch of those hob-nailed shoes?
"War God's Reaper," collecting War dues.

What is war, stripped of it's sheen?
Just killing men we've never seen.
They say I'm mad, crazed by the war,
Have you been there, and if so what for?


Over The Top!

How do it feel to be solduah,
In de blood an' thundah an' dust?
Sit still thah Brethren, stay whar yu at,
An' I'll tell you de truf or bust.

Fust off you joins up de colahs,
Den sails 'cross de ol' brimy sea,
Dodges de subs an' wins by a nose,
An' billets in Gay Paree.

Den you gets youh mahchin' ordahs,
Go up to de "No-Man's-Land,"
You hikes in night so darhn darhk,
You kaint eben see youh hand.

You lay in de trench all night long,
In de rain an' cold like a dog;
Mornin' comes an' you is shakin',
Like a frost-bit razah-back hog.

Den de sergean' blow his whistle,
"Go ovah the top mah brave man,"
Over you goes, rushin' and yellin',
"Mawhnin' Jesus"---"Bye-bye Uncle Sam."

The Medal

'Tis not the bit of bronze and metal,
That tells the time-worn tale,
Of some act of heroism
Where bullets whine and wail.

Nor are the colored ribbons,
Pinned on some strutting chest,
Always truthful indicators,
Of the men who fought the best.

Nor do gold stripes upon the arm
Always tell the story,
Of men who have seen action
Or fought their way to glory.

These are outward indications
Made by the hand of man,
Way they're sometimes passed about,
Is hard to understand.

They will tarnish with the weather,
In the plush or on the shelf,
For the real and lasting medal,
Is the soul within yourself

Did you do your best when called on,
In the air or torn shell-hole,
You've got some real satisfaction,
Buried deep within your soul.

No bit of bronze or ribbon bright,
Or words of praise high spoken,
Can change the thots that lie within,
They are the genuine tokens.

Telling the tale as long as you live,
And the truth of how you fought,
If you played the game with all you had,
You've the medal that can't be bought

Oui Oui Mon Cher!

One day in the rain, in quaint Cirfontaine
I was walking down the street,
When I happened by chance in a window glance,
And there sat a maid cute and sweet.

With big coy eyes, as blue as the skies,
Enter---she did me bid,
And wet to the skin, I walked in,
Sat down and took off me lid.

"Parlevou Franca?" was the best I could say,
To that beautiful French girl there,
"Mon Dieu mon pet," "But vous are wet,
"It even dreep from your 'air."

"Bonjour Monsieur, but you're a dear,
So beeg, an' strong, an' gran',
Seet in theez chair while I frire pomme-de terre,
Mak' yourself 'ome onerstan'?"

So wet as a goat, I took off me coat,
And hung it close to the fire,
She peeled the spuds while I dried me duds,
And listened to the village Crieur.

You know how you feel when through a good meal,
With wine and a woman there,
And tho we both spoke, in languages broke,
Still we got on pretty fair.

'Monsieur please doan'"---"I know you're Tres Bon,"
"But no lak' I to hug an' squeeze;"
'Sess-pluvoir all day?"---"Oh please stay 'way,"
"See, now you startin' in to sneeze.

"Mon brave Soldat, stay right where you at,
'Un you kain keese my scheek;"
And was I sore when I heard a door
Slowly open with a squeek.

Then out of that room a big voice boomed,
"Marie come here my dear,"
There stood the French Crieur, or I'm a liar,
She said, "Bon pere, I hear."

"Oh pardoan me . . . your fren' I no se
And he closed the door with a bang,
I squeezed her some more, kissed her galore,
While the tea kettle merrily sang.

She hugged me tight then bid me good-night
To that sweet and Frenchy refrain,
I whistled a song, 'twas sweet "Madelon
As I marched on home in the rain.

The Debt

Most my pals are still around me,
It all seems just like a dream,
Until "Art" goes down badly hit,
I go mad when I hear his scream.

My blood boils up in red, red rage,
Then I lose the last of my will,
I turn into beast and mad man,
And my cry is to kill . . to kill.

I rage and mutter all the night,
As I wait for the fight and day,
My mind aflame with that one thot,
They must repay, repay ....

You're gone old pal, "May God rest you,"
I wonder is all this worth while,
Gladly I'd join you where you are,
Could I see once again your smile.

I'll try my best to square the debt,
But Pal it can never be done;
So may you rest in peace "O'er Here,"
'Neath new made cross which you've won.

My Pals

Of three Pals of mine I would tell,
And how they helped me live thru hell,
First, there's "Billy," my old gas mask,
For a better Pal you could never ask.

First time I used him (well I remember),
Was up in the "Argonne," late in September
Gas alarm sounded, it brought a cold chill ,
But with "Billy" on it changed to a thrill.

I pictured myself lying "Out There" dead
But grabbed and put on old "Billy" instead
Three hours we lived thru that hellish gas,
Since then he's my pal, first and last.

Next comes "Jim," my old "diggin' in" tool
He was more than a pal except to a fool,
He helped me "dig in" both night and day,
Made me war wise in his own quiet way.

We dug thru rock and sometimes ground,
Then slept the sleep of a dog-tired hound ,
And thru many battles of raging hell,
He was my Pal, and served me well.

Last but not least, comes "Jack," that boy,
Who was my one comfort and eternal joy;
Only a "tin derby" he's often been called,
But never yet has old Jack stalled.

I've used him as a writing pad,
And as a seat he's not half bad;
Used him to pound those queer tent poles,
And for protection in slimy shell holes.

Battered and scarred, shelltorn and marred,
Beyond recognition was he,
For turning the "Boches" shrapnel,
Had been his real specialty.

He nestled close to my kinky head,
And kept me from being one of the dead;
That's "Jack's" story and I must own,
He was more to me than some king's throne.

So if perhaps they seem a bit proud,
Remember they're part of my fighting crowd,
And now they're taking a well earned rest,
In a corner of the room which I love best.


History and Rhymes, continued

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