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64490: The Oldest Soldier

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posted on 2024-04-05, 12:48 authored by First World War Poetry Digital Archive Project Team

The sun shines warm on seven old soldiers
Paraded in a row,
Perched like starlings on the railings---
Give them plug-tobacco!
They'll croon you the Oldest-Soldier Song:
Of Harry who took a holiday
From the sweat of ever thinking for himself
Or going his own bloody way.
It was arms-drill, guard and kit-inspection,
Like dreams of a long train-journey,
And the barrack-bed that Harry dossed on
Went rockabye, rockabye, rockabye.
Harry kept his rifle and brasses clean,
But Jesus Christ, what a liar!
He won the Military Medal
For his coolness under fire.
He was never the last on parade
Nor the first to volunteer,
And when Harry rose to be storeman
He seldom had to pay for his beer.
Twenty-one years, and out Harry came
To be odd-job man, or janitor,
Or commissionaire at a picture-house,
Or, some say, bully to a whore.
But his King and Country calling Harry,
He reported again at the Depôt,
To perch on this railing like a starling,
The oldest soldier of the row.

History

Identifier

3445.txt

Creator

Graves, Robert (1895-1985)

Date

(1995, 1997, 1999)

Date Created

01/01/1997

Temporal Date

31/12/1999

Type

Poem

Rights

The Robert Graves Copyright Trust / Published in Graves, R. (1999) Complete Poems: Volumes 1 - 3. Eds. B. Graves and D. Ward. London: Penguin Books.

Repository Name

ProQuest

Publisher

The First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Usage metrics

    The Robert Graves Collection

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