What's The Good? Poem by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy

What's The Good?

Well, I've done my bit o' scrappin',
And I've done in quite a lot;
Nicked 'em neatly wiv my bayonet,
So I needn't waste a shot.
'Twas my duty, and I done it,
But I 'opes the doctor's quick,
For I wish I 'adn't done it,
Gawd! it turns me shamed and sick.

There's a young 'un like our Richard,
And I bashed 'is 'ead in two,
And there's that ole grey 'aired geezer
Which I stuck 'is belly through.
Gawd, you women, wives and mothers,
It's sich waste of all your pain,
If you knowed what I'd been doin',
Could yer kiss me still, my Jane?

When I sets me dahn to tell yer
What it means to scrap and fight
Could I tell ye true and honest,
Make ye see this bleedin' sight.
No I couldn't and I wouldn't,
It would turn your 'air all grey,
Women suffers 'ell to bear us,
And we suffers 'ell to slay.
I suppose some Fritz went courtin'
In the gloamin' same as me,
And the old world turned to 'eaven
When they kissed beneath a tree.
And each evening seemed more golden,
Till the day as they was wed,
And 'is bride stood shy and blushin',
Like a June rose, soft and red.
I remembers 'ow it were, lass,
On that silver night in May,
When ye 'ung your 'ead and whispered
That ye couldn't say me nay.
Then, when June brought in the roses
And you changed your maiden name,
'Ow ye stood there, shy and blushin',
When the call of evening came.
I remembers 'ow I loved ye,
When ye arsked me in your pride
'Ow I'd liked my Sunday dinner
As ye nestled at my side.
For between a thousand races
Lands may stretch and seas may foam,
But it makes no bloomin' difference,
Boche or Briton, 'ome is 'ome.
I remember what 'e cost ye,
When I gave ye up for dead,
As I 'eld your 'and and watched ye
With the little lad in bed.
'Struth I wish 'e'd stop 'is lookin',
And shut up 'is bloomin' eyes.
'Cause I keeps on seein' Richard
When I whacks 'im and 'e cries.
Damn the blasted war to 'ell, lass,
It's just bloody rotten waste,
Them as gas on war and glory
Oughter come and 'ave a taste.
Yes, I larned what women suffers
When I seed you stand the test,
But you knowed as it were worth it
When 'e felt to find your breast.
All your pain were clean forgotten
When you touched 'is little 'ead,
And ye sat up proud and smilin',
With a living lad in bed.
But we suffers too - we suffers,
Like the damned as groans in 'ell,
And we 'aven't got no Babies,
Only mud, and blood, and smell.
'Tain't the suff'rin' as I grouse at,
I can stick my bit o' pain;
But I keeps on allus askin'
What's the good and who's to gain?
When ye've got 'a plain objective'
Ye can fight your fight and grin,
But there ain't no damned objective,
And there ain't no prize to win.
We're just like a lot of bullocks
In a blarsted china shop,
Bustin' all the world to blazes,
'Cause we dunno 'ow to stop.
Trampling years of work and wonder
Into dust beneath our feet,
And the one as does most damage
Swears that victory is sweet.
It's a sweet as turns to bitter,
Like the bitterness of gall,
And the winner knows 'e's losin'
If 'e stops to think at all.
I suppose this ain't the spirit
Of the Patriotic man.
Didn't ought to do no thinkin',
Soldiers just kill all they can.
But we carn't 'elp thinkin' sometimes,
Though our business is to kill,
War 'as turned us into butchers,
But we're only 'uman still.
Gawd knows well I ain't no thinker,
And I never knew before,
But I knows now why I'm fightin',
It's to put an end to war.
Not to make my country richer
Or to keep her flag unfurled,
Over every other nation
Tyrant mistress of the world.
Not to boast of Britain's glory,
Bought by bloodshed in her wars,
But that Peace may shine about her,
As the sea shines round her shores.
If ole Fritz believes in fightin',
And obeys 'is War Lord's will,
Well until 'e stops believin',
It's my job to fight and kill.
But the Briton ain't no butcher,
'E's a peaceful cove at 'eart,
And it's only 'cause 'e 'as to,
That 'e plays the butcher's part.
'Cause I 'as to - that's the reason
Why I done the likes o' this,
You're an understanding woman,
And you won't refuse your kiss.
Women pity soldiers' sorrow,
That can bring no son to birth,
Only death and devastation,
Darkness over all the earth.
We won't 'ave no babe to cuddle,
Like a blessing to the breast,
We'll just 'ave a bloody mem'ry
To disturb us when we rest.
But the kids will someday bless us,
When they grows up British men,
'Cause we tamed the Prussian tyrant,
And brought Peace to earth again.

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