Comrades in Arm-Lets

- 1868-1941
Not theirs the popular uniform
That takes the feminine heart by storm,
And wins soft glances, shy or warm,
        The perquisites of pluck.
But theirs the commonplace city kit,
With a blue and white stripe round the sleeve of it,
And a stout little truncheon to do the trick,
         If ever they have the luck.

Not theirs to fight on the Allie’s wing,
Or even the march with soldierly swing,
While the people are cheering like anything,
         To the stirring roll of drums.
But theirs to stand ’neath a pitchy sky.
On a lonely beat, with a vigilant eye
For the skulking shape of a German spy
         Who—bother him!—never comes.

By night they guard—though possibly bored—
Those places where light and water are stored,
And—since the family can’t be ignored—
         Business as usual by day.
Though sport may be scanty compared with the blanks,
They’re doing their level, the armletted ranks,
With no expectation of ha’pence or thanks,
         For that is the S.C.’s way.

More by Jessie Pope

Lights Out!

Darkness—expectant, discreet—
    Only a lamp here and there,
Gloom in the clattering street,
    Stygian black in the square;
Dazzling fascias and fronts,
    Scintillant sky-scrapers banished,
Snuffed and shut down are the spangles of Town.
            London has vanished.

Only a few months ago
    London woke up every night;
Dances or “Chemin” or Show,
    Festival vistas or light.
Everywhere glitter and glare,
    Junket and revelry keeping.
Yes, but despite the laughter and light,
             London was sleeping.

Searchlights are probing the skies,
    Eastward their streamers are trailed;
Masked are the city’s bright eyes—
    Even the tramcars are veiled.
Cockneys turn in at eleven,
    “Stop Press” thirst finally slaked.
Turn the lights out. Now, without doubt,
	 London’s awake!

Play the Game

Twenty-two stalwarts in stripes and shorts
    Kicking a ball along,
Set in a square of leather-lunged sports
    Twenty-two thousand strong,
Some of them shabby, some of them spruce,
    Savagely clamorous all,
Hurling endearments, advice or abuse,
    At the muscular boys on the ball. 

Stark and stiff ’neath a stranger’s sky
    A few hundred miles away,
War-worn, khaki-clad figures lie,
    Their faces rigid and grey—
Stagger and drop where the bullets swarm,
    Where the shrapnel is bursting loud,
Die, to keep England safe and warm—
    For a vigorous football crowd!

Football’s a sport, and a rare sport too,
    Don’t make it a source of shame.
To-day there are worthier things to do.
    Englishmen, play the game!
A truce to the League, a truce to the Cup,
    Get to work with a gun.
When our country’s at war, we must all back up—
    It’s the only thing to be done!

The Outpost

The dying sunset’s slanting rays
    Incarnadine the soldier’s deed,
His sturdy countenance betrays
               The bull-dog breed.

Not his to shun the stubborn fight,
    The struggle against cruel odds.
Alone, unaided—'tis a sight
                For men and gods.

And now his back is bowed and bent,
    Now stooping, now erect he stands,
And now the red life blood is sprent
                From both his hands.

He takes his enemies on trust
    As one who sees and yet is blind,
For every mutilating thrust
                Comes from behind.

’Tis done! The dying sun has gone,
    But triumph fills the soldier’s breast.
He’s sewn his back brace button on
                While fully dressed.