Monday, 11 October 2010

Rat in funk hole

Between the acting of a fearful thing and the first motion, all the interim is like a phantasma... Shakespeare

This fat and sated rat now crouched behind my hat
Of tin will soon be dead from gas - for gas shall come to pass
This misty eve of rain drenched mud
Too wet for war and vermin, for he has no mask
To don when he smells the power of the poison gas.

This rat shall turn up his ratty toes at once
And his corpse shall lie perhaps for almost ever
In the muddy rain, or lie at least until this dirty business
Has disappeared below the decorated fields
Of poppies all nodding sagely in the sunny morning breeze.

And so farewell dear rat now crouched behind my hat
Of tin, for the time has come to don my mask
This misty eve of rain drenched mud
Too wet for war and vermin; for you have no mask
To don when you smell the power of the poison gas.



  1. I've always had a soft spot for World War I poetry and this is a nice addition to that canon.

  2. Do wish you hadn't spoken of his ratty toes - that made me rather like him.

  3. not sure why but it made me was a good giggle!

  4. I like the repetitive (yet not 100% repetitive) lines here that seem to represent the length of days, weeks and months that repeated themselves in the trenches.

  5. Jim, thanks, WWI poetry is as you know a defining moment, as far as poetry in the English speaking world is concerned, I think after Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth (for example) there was a welcome shift in what war poetry was supposed to be, supposed to say. ie. the Truth.
    Weaver - yes, you are meant to "rather like him" and of course this is so that you can feel sorry for him at the end.
    Gerry, but good so. There's a dark humour lurking in most of these things. It enables us to deal with them.
    Gordon, I can recommend the unexpurgated and unabridged version of 'Her Privates We' by Frederic Manning.


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