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Weeping Willie

Edward George Dyson 1865 (Ballarat, Victoria) – 1931 (Saint Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria)

Whey our trooper hit wide water every
heart was yearin' back
To the little 'ouse at Coogee or a hut at Bar-
She was 'ookin' up to spike the stars, or rootin'
in the wave,
An' me liver turned a hand spring with each
buck the beggar gave.
Then we pulls a sick 'n' silly smile 'n' tips a
saucy lid,
Crackin' hardy. Willie didn't. Willie
snivelled like a kid.

At Gallip' the steamer dumped us, 'n' we got
right down to work,
Whoopin' up the hill splendacious, playin'
tiggie with the Turk.
When the stinkin' Abdul hit us we curled
down upon a stone,
'N' we yelled for greater glory, crackin' 'ardy
on our own.
Not so Willie. He was cursin', cold ez death
'n' grey ez steel,
'N' the smallest thing that busted made the
little blighter squeal.

In the bitter day's that follered, spillin' life be-
side the sea,
We would fake a spry expression for the things
that had to be,
Always dressin' up the winder, crackin' 'ardy
though we felt
Fearful creepy in the whiskers, very cold be-
neath the belt.
But his jills would sniff 'n' shiver in the mother
of a fright,
'N' go blubberin' 'n' quakin' out to waller in
the fight.

In the West we liked the weather, 'n' we fat-
tened in the mud,
Crackin' 'ardy, stewed together, rats an'
slurry men 'n' blood.
Weepin' Willie wouldn't have it these was
pleasin' things abed,
'N' he shuddered in his shimmy if they passed
him with the dead.
When he cried about his mother, in a gentle
voice he'd tell
Them as dumb-well didn't like it they could go
to sudden 'ell.

There was nothin' sweet for Willie in a rough-
up in the wet;
But if all things scared him purple, not a thing
had stopped him yet.
If some chaps was wanted urgent special dirty
work to do
Willie went in with a shudder, but he alwiz
saw it through.
Oh, a busy little body was our Willie in a
Then he'd cry out in the night about the faces
in the slush.

Well they pinked him one fine mornin' with
a thumpin' 'unk iv shell;
Put it in 'n' all across him. What he was
you couldn't tell.
I saw him stitched 'n' mended where he
whimpered in his bed,
'N' he'd on'y lived because he was afraid to
die, he said.
Sez he “Struth, they're out there fightin',
trimmin' Boshes good 'n' smart,
While I'm bedded here 'n' 'elpless. It fair
breaks a feller's 'eart.”

But he came again last Tuesday '-n' we go it
in a breath—
“London's big 'n' black 'n' noisy. It would
scare a bloke to death.”
He's away now in the trenches, white 'n'
nervous, but, you bet,
Playin' lovely 'ands of poker with his busy
'Fraid of givin' 'n' of takin', 'fraid of gases,
'fraid of guns—
But a champion lightweight terror to the gor-
forsaken 'Uns!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:35 min read

Edward George Dyson

Edward George Dyson, or 'Ted' Dyson, was an Australian journalist, poet, playwright and short story writer. He was the elder brother of illustrators Will Dyson (1880–1938) and Ambrose Dyson (1876–1913), with three sisters also of artistic and literary praise. Dyson wrote under several – some say many – nom-de-plumes, including Silas Snell. In his day, the period of Australia's federation, the poet and writer was 'ranked very closely to Australia's greatest short-story writer, Henry Lawson'. With Lawson known as the 'swagman poet', Ogilvie the 'horseman poet', Dyson was the 'mining poet'. Although known as a freelance writer, he was also considered part of The Bulletin writer group. more…

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