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[By Harold Begbie.]

Soldier, wbat axe you writing By tlie side of your cooling_ gun? Sir, since I’m stopped from lighting, A word to my little son. Tell me the thing you’ve written. For I love the writer’s art. Sir, that to be a Briton Is worth, a broken heart.

Show me so fine a letter That you write in the •trench’s mud. Sir, you could read it better Were it not for the stain of blood. Soldier, tel! me your story— Your eyes grow bright and wide. Sir, it’s a taste of glory To think of the young one’s pride.

Would you like to he a soldier, little Tommy-all-my-own? Would you like to tip the Kaiser off his high and mighty throne? Would you like to be with father in a well-dug British trench. Knocking spots off German generals and saluting General French? Would I like to be with Tommy, little Tommy-all-my-own? Would T give a month of Sundays just lo now no has grown? Yes! I’d like to be a dustman in the-poorest London streets For the chaaco of seeing Tommy with a gumboil made of sweets. If you want to be where I am, then I want to be with you, But I’m here to show a tyrant that a Briton’s word, is true. .... Wo must stand by little Belgium, we' must fight till fighting • ends,' Wo must show the foes of Britain that we don’t desert our friends. Don’t you go and think, my Tommy, little Tommy-all-my-own, That we’re squabbling hero for nothing, that wc’ro growling for s, bone l , Wo are here for Britain’s honor, for our freedom, for our pence. And we’re also here, my Tommy, that these wicked wars may cease. Don’t you say that I am funky, don’t you say that I am sick; Boy, I’m half afraid, to tell you, but I love it when it’s thickWhen the shells comS screaming, bursting._and the whistling bullets wail; God forgive me, but I love it, and I fight with tooth and nail. But it’s after —looking round us, missing friends, and finding dead— It is then the British soldier gets a fancy in his head: And he swears by God in Heaven that the man who starts a war Should go swimming into judgment down a cataract of gore. That’s what makes us such great fighters, and I’d have you be the same;! Love vour o wintry like a good ’un; hold your head up, play the game; Be a straight and' pleasant neighbor, be a cool, unruffled man; But when bullies want n. thrashing, why, you thrash ’em all you can. While you say your prayers, my Tommy, little Tommy-all-my-own, Asking" God to save your daddy, I send this one to His Throne— Save my little lad from slaughter, guard his heart and mind from wrong, Keep him sweet and kind and gentle—yes, but make him awful strong. Good-night, my little Tommy, here’s your daddy’s good-bye kiss; ■ Don’t forget what I have told you, and remember also this — 1 If I don’t come back to ee© you I shall die without a groan, For it’s great to fall for freedom, little Tommy-all-my-own.

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Bibliographic details

HANDING DOWN, Issue 15702, 16 January 1915

Word Count

HANDING DOWN Issue 15702, 16 January 1915

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