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My Mate

I've been sittin' starin', starin' at 'is muddy pair of boots,
  And tryin' to convince meself it's 'im.
(Look out there, lad! That sniper -- 'e's a dysey when 'e shoots;
  'E'll be layin' of you out the same as Jim.)
Jim as lies there in the dug-out wiv 'is blanket round 'is 'ead,
  To keep 'is brains from mixin' wiv the mud;
And 'is face as white as putty, and 'is overcoat all red,
  Like 'e's spilt a bloomin' paint-pot -- but it's blood.

And I'm tryin' to remember of a time we wasn't pals.
  'Ow often we've played 'ookey, 'im and me;
And sometimes it was music-'alls, and sometimes it was gals,
  And even there we 'ad no disagree.
For when 'e copped Mariar Jones, the one I liked the best,
  I shook 'is 'and and loaned 'im 'arf a quid;
I saw 'im through the parson's job, I 'elped 'im make 'is nest,
  I even stood god-farther to the kid.

So when the war broke out, sez 'e: "Well, wot abaht it, Joe?"
  "Well, wot abaht it, lad?" sez I to 'im.
'Is missis made a awful fuss, but 'e was mad to go,
  ('E always was 'igh-sperrited was Jim).
Well, none of it's been 'eaven, and the most of it's been 'ell,
  But we've shared our baccy, and we've 'alved our bread.
We'd all the luck at Wipers, and we shaved through Noove Chapelle,
  And . . . that snipin' barstard gits 'im on the 'ead.

Now wot I wants to know is, why it wasn't me was took?
  I've only got meself, 'e stands for three.
I'm plainer than a louse, while 'e was 'andsome as a dook;
  'E always WAS a better man than me.
'E was goin' 'ome next Toosday; 'e was 'appy as a lark,
  And 'e'd just received a letter from 'is kid;
And 'e struck a match to show me, as we stood there in the dark,
  When . . . that bleedin' bullet got 'im on the lid.

'E was killed so awful sudden that 'e 'adn't time to die.
  'E sorto jumped, and came down wiv a thud.
Them corpsy-lookin' star-shells kept a-streamin' in the sky,
  And there 'e lay like nothin' in the mud.
And there 'e lay so quiet wiv no mansard to 'is 'ead,
  And I'm sick, and blamed if I can understand:
The pots of 'alf and 'alf we've 'ad, and ZIP! like that -- 'e's dead,
  Wiv the letter of 'is nipper in 'is 'and.

There's some as fights for freedom and there's some as fights for fun,
  But me, my lad, I fights for bleedin' 'ate.
You can blame the war and blast it, but I 'opes it won't be done
  Till I gets the bloomin' blood-price for me mate.
It'll take a bit o' bayonet to level up for Jim;
  Then if I'm spared I think I'll 'ave a bid,
Wiv 'er that was Mariar Jones to take the place of 'im,
  To sorter be a farther to 'is kid.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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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…

All Robert William Service poems | Robert William Service Books

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    "My Mate" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 10 Apr. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/32301/my-mate>.

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