Afternoon Tea Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


As I was saying No thank you I never take cream with my teaA
Cows weren't allowed in the trenches got out of the habit y'seeA
As I was saying our Colonel leaped up like a youngster of tenB
Come on lads he shouts and we'll show 'em and he sprang to the head of the menB
Then some bally thing seemed to trip him and he fell on his face with a slamC
Oh he died like a true British soldier and the last word he uttered was DamnC
And hang it I loved the old fellow and something just burst in my brainD
And I cared no more for the bullets than I would for a shower of rainD
'Twas an awf'ly funny sensation I say this is jolly nice teaA
I felt as if something had broken by gad I was suddenly freeA
Free for a glorified moment beyond regulations and lawsE
Free just to wallow in slaughter as the chap of the Stone Age wasF
So on I went joyously nursing a Berserker rage of my ownG
And though all my chaps were behind me feeling most frightf'ly aloneG
With the bullets and shells ding donging and the krock and the swish of the shrapH
And I found myself humming Ben Bolt Will you pass me the sugar old chapH
Two lumps please What was I saying Oh yes the jolly old dashI
We simply ripped through the barrage and on with a roar and a crashI
My fellows Old Nick couldn't stop 'em On on they went with a yellJ
Till they tripped on the Boches' sand bags nothing much left to tellJ
A trench so tattered and battered that even a rat couldn't liveK
Some corpses tangled and mangled wire you could pass through a sieveL
The jolly old guns had bilked us cheated us out of our showM
And my fellows were simply yearning for a red mix up with the foeM
So I shouted to them to follow and on we went roaring againB
Battle tuned and exultant on in the leaden rainD
Then all at once a machine gun barks from a bit of a bankN
And our Major roars in a fury We've got to take it on flankN
He was running like fire to lead us when down like a stone he comesO
As full of typewriter bullets as a pudding is full of plumsO
So I took his job and we got 'em By gad we got 'em like ratsP
Down in a deep shell crater we fought like Kilkenny catsP
'Twas pleasant just for a moment to be sheltered and out of rangeQ
With someone you saw to go for it made an agreeable changeQ
And the Boches that missed my bullets my chaps gave a bayonet joltR
And all the time I remember I whistled and hummed Ben BoltR
Well that little job was over so hell for leather we ranS
On to the second line trenches that's where the fun beganS
For though we had strafed 'em like fury there still were some Boches aboutT
And my fellows teeth set and eyes glaring like terriers routed 'em outT
Then I stumbled on one of their dug outs and I shouted Is anyone thereU
And a voice Yes one but I'm wounded came faint up the narrow stairU
And my man was descending before me when sudden a cry a shotV
I say this cake is delicious You make it yourself do you notV
My man Oh they killed the poor devil for if there was one there was tenB
So after I'd bombed 'em sufficient I went down at the head of my menB
And four tried to sneak from a bunk hole but we cornered the rotters all rightW
I'd rather not go into details 'twas messy that bit of the fightW
But all of it's beastly messy let's talk of pleasanter thingsX
The skirts that the girls are wearing ridiculous fluffy thingsX
So short that they show Oh hang it Well if I must I mustY
We cleaned out the second trench line bomb and bayonet thrustY
And on we went to the third one quite calloused to crumping by nowZ
And some of our fellows who'd passed us were making a deuce of a rowM
And my chaps well I just couldn't hold 'em It's strange how it is with goreA2
In some ways it's just like whiskey if you taste it you must have moreA2
Their eyes were like beacons of battle by gad sir they COULDN'T be calmedB2
So I headed 'em bang for the bomb belt racing like billy be damnedC2
Oh it didn't take long to arrive there those who arrived at allD2
The machine guns were certainly chronic the shindy enough to appalD2
Oh yes I omitted to tell you I'd wounds on the chest and the headE2
And my shirt was torn to a gun rag and my face blood gummy and redE2
I'm thinking I looked like a madman I fancy I felt one tooF2
Half naked and swinging a rifle God what a glorious doF2
As I sit here in old Piccadilly sipping my afternoon teaA
I see a blind bullet chipped devil and it's hard to believe that it's meA
I see a wild war damaged demon smashing out left and rightW
And humming Ben Bolt rather loudly and hugely enjoying the fightW
And as for my men may God bless 'em I've loved 'em ever since thenB
They fought like the shining angels they're the pick o' the land my menB
And the trench was a reeking shambles not a Boche to be seen aliveK
So I thought but on rounding a traverse I came on a covey of fiveK
And four of 'em threw up their flippers but the fifth chap a sergeant was gameG2
And though I'd a bomb and revolver he came at me just the sameG2
A sporty thing that I tell you I just couldn't blow him to hellD2
So I swung to the point of his jaw bone and down like a ninepin he fellD2
And then when I'd brought him to reason he wasn't half bad that HunH2
He bandaged my head and my short rib as well as the Doc could have doneH2
So back I went with my Boches as gay as a two year old coltR
And it suddenly struck me as rummy I still was a humming Ben BoltR
And now by Jove how I've bored you You've just let me babble awayI2
Let's talk of the things that matter your car or the newest playI2

Robert Service


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