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A poem by Edgar A. Guest

Tommy Atkins' Way

Title:     Tommy Atkins' Way
Author: Edgar A. Guest [More Titles by Guest]

He was battle-scarred and ugly with the marks of shot and shell,
And we knew that British Tommy had a stirring tale to tell,
So we asked him where he got it and what disarranged his face,
And he answered, blushing scarlet: "In a nawsty little place."

There were medals on his jacket, but he wouldn't tell us why.
"A bit lucky, gettin' this one," was the sum of his reply.
He had fought a horde of Prussians with his back against the wall,
And he told us, when we questioned: "H'it was nothing arfter h'all."

Not a word of what he'd suffered, not a word of what he'd seen,
Not a word about the fury of the hell through which he'd been.
All he said was: "When you're cornered, h'and you've got no plyce to go,
You've just got to stand up to it! You cawn't 'elp yourself, you know.

"H'it was just a bit unpleasant, when the shells were droppin' thick,"
And he tapped his leather leggins with his little bamboo stick.
"What did H'I do? Nothing, really! Nothing more than just my share;
Some one h'else would gladly do it, but H'I 'appened to be there."

When this sturdy British Tommy quits the battlefields of earth
And St. Peter asks his spirit to recount his deeds of worth,
I fancy I can hear him, with his curious English drawl,
Saying: "Nothing, nothing really, that's worth mentioning at h'all."

[The end]
Edgar A. Guest's poem: Tommy Atkins' Way