First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Next War

THE NEXT WAR by ROBERT GRAVES

You young friskies who to-day Jump and fight in Father's hay With bows and arrows and wooden spears, Playing at Royal Welch Fusiliers, Happy though these hours you spend, Have they warned you how games end? Boys, from the first time you prod And thrust with spears of curtain-rod, From the first time you tear and slash Your long-bows from the garden ash, Or fit your shaft with a blue jay feather, Binding the split tops together, From that same hour by fate you're bound As champions of this stony ground, Loyal and true in everything, To serve your Army and your King, Prepared to starve and sweat and die Under some fierce foreign sky, If only to keep safe those joys That belong to British boys, To keep young Prussians from the soft Scented hay of Father's loft, And stop young Slavs from cutting bows And bendy spears from Welsh hedgerows. Another War soon gets begun, A dirtier, a more glorious one; Then, boys, you'll have to play, all in; It's the cruellest team will win. So hold your nose against the stink And never stop too long to think. Wars don't change except in name; The next one must go just the same, And new foul tricks unguessed before Will win and justify this War. Kaisers and Czars will strut the stage Once more with pomp and greed and rage; Courtly ministers will stop At home and fight to the last drop; By the million men will die In some new horrible agony; And children here will thrust and poke, Shoot and die, and laugh at the joke, With bows and arrows and wooden spears, Playing at Royal Welch Fusiliers.

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