Bill's Grave



I'm gatherin' flowers by the wayside to lay on the grave of Bill;
    I've sneaked away from the billet, 'cause Jim wouldn't understand;
'E'd call me a silly fat'ead, and larf till it made 'im ill,
    To see me 'ere in the cornfield, wiv a big bookay in me 'and.

For Jim and me we are rough uns, but Bill was one o' the best;
    We 'listed and learned together to larf at the wust wot comes;
Then Bill copped a packet proper, and took 'is departure West,
    So sudden 'e 'adn't a minit to say good-bye to 'is chums.

And they took me to where 'e was planted, a sort of a measly mound,
    And, thinks I, 'ow Bill would be tickled, bein' so soft and queer,
If I gathered a bunch o' them wild-flowers, and sort of arranged them round
    Like a kind of a bloody headpiece . . . and that's the reason I'm 'ere.

But not for the love of glory I wouldn't 'ave Jim to know.
    'E'd call me a slobberin' Cissy, and larf till 'is sides was sore;
I'd 'ave larfed at meself too, it isn't so long ago;
    But some'ow it changes a feller, 'avin' a taste o' war.

It 'elps a man to be 'elpful, to know wot 'is pals is worth
    (Them golden poppies is blazin' like lamps some fairy 'as lit);
I'm fond o' them big white dysies. . . . Now Jim's o' the salt o' the earth;
    But 'e 'as got a tongue wot's a terror, and 'e ain't sentimental a bit.

I likes them blue chaps wot's 'idin' so shylike among the corn.
    Won't Bill be glad! We was allus thicker 'n thieves, us three.
Why! 'Oo's that singin' so 'earty? JIM! And as sure as I'm born
    'E's there in the giddy cornfields, a-gatherin' flowers like me.

Quick! Drop me posy be'ind me. I watches 'im for a while,
    Then I says: "Wot 'o, there, Chummy! Wot price the little bookay?"
And 'e starts like a bloke wot's guilty, and 'e says with a sheepish smile:
    "She's a bit of orl right, the widder wot keeps the estaminay."

So 'e goes away in a 'urry, and I wishes 'im best o' luck,
    And I picks up me bunch o' wild-flowers, and the light's gettin' sorto dim,
When I makes me way to the boneyard, and . . . I stares like a man wot's stuck,
    For wot do I see? Bill's grave-mound strewn with the flowers of Jim.

Of course I won't never tell 'im, bein' a tactical lad;
    And Jim parley-voos to the widder: "Trez beans, lamoor; compree?"
Oh, 'e'd die of shame if 'e knew I knew; but say! won't Bill be glad
    When 'e stares through the bleedin' clods and sees the blossoms of Jim and me?

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:29 min read
122

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABAB CDCD EFEX GHGH IJIJ KLKL MNMG NONO PFPL
Closest metre Iambic octameter
Characters 2,413
Words 470
Stanzas 9
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Robert William Service

Robert William Service was a poet and writer sometimes referred to as the Bard of the Yukon He is best-known for his writings on the Canadian North including the poems The Shooting of Dan McGrew The Law of the Yukon and The Cremation of Sam McGee His writing was so expressive that his readers took him for a hard-bitten old Klondike prospector not the later-arriving bank clerk he actually was Robert William Service was born 16 January 1874 in Preston England but also lived in Scotland before emigrating to Canada in 1894 Service went to the Yukon Territory in 1904 as a bank clerk and became famous for his poems about this region which are mostly in his first two books of poetry He wrote quite a bit of prose as well and worked as a reporter for some time but those writings are not nearly as well known as his poems He travelled around the world quite a bit and narrowly escaped from France at the beginning of the Second World War during which time he lived in Hollywood California He died 11 September 1958 in France Incidentally he played himself in a movie called The Spoilers starring John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich more…

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