Treasure Island

Sir Henry Newbolt

(1862 - 1938 / Bilston / England)

A Letter From the Front


I was out early to-day, spying about
From the top of a haystack -- such a lovely morning --
And when I mounted again to canter back
I saw across a field in the broad sunlight
A young Gunner Subaltern, stalking along
With a rook-rifle held at the read, and -- would you believe it? --
A domestic cat, soberly marching beside him.

So I laughed, and felt quite well disposed to the youngster,
And shouted out "the top of the morning" to him,
And wished him "Good sport!" -- and then I remembered
My rank, and his, and what I ought to be doing:
And I rode nearer, and added, "I can only suppose
You have not seen the Commander-in-Chief's order
Forbidding English officers to annoy their Allies
By hunting and shooting."
But he stood and saluted
And said earnestly, "I beg your pardon, Sir,
I was only going out to shoot a sparrow
To feed my cat with."
So there was the whole picture,
The lovely early morning, the occasional shell
Screeching and scattering past us, the empty landscape, --
Empty, except for the young Gunner saluting,
And the cat, anxiously watching his every movement.

I may be wrong, or I may have told it badly,
But it struck me as being extremely ludicrous.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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