August 18, 2009
good young men, the first contingent, a poem by Andrew Taylor
good young men the first contingent ,
yesterday's fishers, snipers and scouts
a thousand boots
the first 500 in the Newfoundland regiment,
no more the fireman's crooked cap ,
he wears the service cap to regulation;
no more after-supper "tell" in the front room ,
the boys still take their smoke.
And still the dirty looks of the comprador gentlemen,
for as yet the merchant's sons led their colonial parade ,
and as for them, the sons of the people,
they took it all, full catastrophe living,
the young Newfoundlanders
always dying on the ticket of the gentlemen.
they say that the old Newfoundland
had volunteered away from -
was a hodge-podge of charming Irish this
and sturdy English that ,
piper billy and story-teller jack,
they say the boys left behind
Mummers and stages,and girls a-plenty:
their happy peasant life in the potemkin village.
they say the boys cut their teeth on
flaming ghost ships, and fairies,
a little berry-picking on the barrens,
Sunday Morning Prayer or Holy Mass,
fish and brewis, figgy duff...
but all that trim's a sentimental greeting card, a
St Patrick's Day parody
the real time of the oldest brittanic colony:
I take just one example:
from world war one
a thousand and a half never came back
out of a population of 250,000,
yet I heard that at Beaumont Hamel one of our dying lads
looked up at the officer and hopefully gasped:
"Was that good enough sir?"
seconds before he expired.
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