“Not so very,” I said.
FROM A FULL HEART
In days of peace my fellow-men
Rightly regarded me as more like
A Bishop than a Major-Gen.,
And nothing since has made me warlike;
But when this age-long struggle ends
And I have seen the Allies dish up
The goose of Hindenburg—oh, friends!
I shall out-bish the mildest Bishop.
When the War is over and the Kaiser’s out of print, I’m going to buy some tortoises and watch the beggars sprint; When the War is over and the sword at last we sheathe, I’m going to keep a jelly-fish and listen to it breathe.
I never really longed for gore,
And any taste for red corpuscles
That lingered with me left before
The German troops had entered Brussels.
In early days the Colonel’s “Shun!”
Froze me; and, as the War grew older,
The noise of someone else’s gun
Left me considerably colder.
When the War is over and the battle has been won, I’m going to buy a barnacle and take it for a run; When the War is over and the German Fleet we sink, I’m going to keep a silk-worm’s egg and listen to it think.
The Captains and the Kings depart—
It may be so, but not lieutenants;
Dawn after weary dawn I start
The never-ending round of penance;
One rock amid the welter stands
On which my gaze is fixed intently—
An after-life in quiet lands
Lived very lazily and gently.
When the War is over and we’ve done the Belgians proud, I’m going to keep a chrysalis and read to it aloud; When the War is over and we’ve finished up the show, I’m going to plant a lemon-pip and listen to it grow.
Oh, I’m tired of the noise and the
turmoil of battle,
And I’m even upset by the lowing of cattle,
And the clang of the bluebells is death to my liver,
And the roar of the dandelion gives me a shiver,
And a glacier, in movement, is much too exciting,
And I’m nervous, when standing on one, of alighting—
Give me Peace; that is all, that is all that I seek ...
Say, starting on Saturday week.
Occasionally I receive letters from friends, whom I have not seen lately, addressed to Lieutenant M —— and apologizing prettily inside in case I am by now a colonel; in drawing-rooms I am sometimes called “Captain-er”; and up at the Fort the other day a sentry of the Royal Defence Corps, wearing the Crecy medal, mistook me for a Major, and presented crossbows to me. This is all wrong. As Mr. Garvin well points out, it is important that we should not have a false perspective of the War. Let me, then, make it perfectly plain—I am a Second Lieutenant.
When I first became a Second Lieutenant I was rather proud. I was a Second Lieutenant “on probation.” On my right sleeve I wore a single star. So: