There’s a drip of honeysuckle in the deep green lane;
There’s old Martin jogging homeward on his worn old wain;
There are cherry petals falling, and a cuckoo calling, calling,
And a score of larks (God bless ’em) . . . but it’s all pain, pain.
For you see I am not really there at all, not at all;
For you see I’m in the trenches where the crump-crumps fall;
And the bits o’ shells are screaming and it’s only blessed dreaming
That in fancy I am seeming back in old Saint Pol.
Oh I’ve thought of it so often since I’ve come down here;
And I never dreamt that any place could be so dear;
The silvered whinstone houses, and the rosy men in blouses,
And the kindly, white-capped women with their eyes spring-clear.
And mother’s sitting knitting where her roses climb,
And the angelus is calling with a soft, soft chime,
And the sea-wind comes caressing, and
And Yvonne, Yvonne is guessing that it’s milking time.
Oh it’s Sunday, for she’s wearing of her broidered gown;
And she draws the pasture pickets and the cows come down;
And their feet are powdered yellow, and their voices honey-mellow,
And they bring a scent of clover, and their eyes are brown.
And Yvonne is dreaming after, but her eyes are blue;
And her lips are made for laughter, and her white teeth too;
And her mouth is like a cherry, and a dimple mocking merry
Is lurking in the very cheek she turns to you.
So I walk beside her kindly, and she laughs at me;
And I heap her arms with lilac from the lilac tree;
And a golden light is welling, and a golden peace is dwelling,
And a thousand birds are telling how it’s good to be.
And what are pouting lips for if they can’t
And I’ve filled her arms with blossom so she can’t resist;
And the cows are sadly straying, and her mother must be saying
That Yvonne is long delaying. . . God! How close that missed.
A nice polite reminder that the Boche are nigh;
That we’re here to fight like devils, and if need-be die;
That from kissing pretty wenches to the frantic firing-benches
Of the battered, tattered trenches is a far, far cry.
Yet still I’m sitting dreaming in the glare and grime;
And once again I’m hearing of them church-bells chime;
And how I wonder whether in the golden summer weather
We will fetch the cows together when it’s milking time. . . .
(English voice, months later):
“Ow Bill! A rottin’ Frenchy. Whew! ‘E ain’t ‘arf prime.”