Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

The Little Piou-Piou - Poem by Robert William Service

(The French "Tommy").

Oh, some of us lolled in the chateau,
And some of us slinked in the slum;
But now we are here with a song and a cheer
To serve at the sign of the drum.
They put us in trousers of scarlet,
In big sloppy ulsters of blue;
In boots that are flat, a box of a hat,
And they call us the little piou-piou.
Piou-piou.
The laughing and quaffing piou-piou,
The swinging and singing piou-piou;
And so with a rattle we march to the battle,
The weary but cheery piou-piou.

Encore un petit verre de vin,
Pour nous mettre en route;
Encore un petit verre de vin
Pour nous mettre en train.

They drive us head-on for the slaughter;
We haven't got much of a chance;
The issue looks bad, but we're awfully glad
To battle and die for La France.
For some must be killed, that is certain;
There's only one's duty to do;
So we leap to the fray in the glorious way
They expect of the little piou-piou.
En avant!

The way of the gallant piou-piou,
The dashing and smashing piou-piou;
The way grim and gory that leads us to glory
Is the way of the little piou-piou.

Allons, enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé.

To-day you would scarce recognise us,
Such veterans war-wise are we;
So grimy and hard, so calloused and scarred,
So "crummy", yet gay as can be.
We've finished with trousers of scarlet,
They're giving us breeches of blue,
With a helmet instead of a cap on our head, -
Yet still we're the little piou-piou.
Nous les aurons!

The jesting, unresting piou-piou;
The cheering, unfearing piou-piou;
The keep-your-head-level and fight-like-the-devil;
The dying, defying piou-piou.

À la bayonette! Jusqu'a la mort!
Sonnez la charge, clairons!


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Read poems about / on: war, song



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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