First World War Poetry Digital Archive

It's A Queer Time

IT'S A QUEER TIME by ROBERT GRAVES

It's hard to know if you're alive or dead When steel and fire go roaring through your head.

One moment you'll be crouching at your gun Traversing, mowing heaps down half in fun: The next, you choke and clutch at your right breast--- No time to think---leave all---and off you go... To Treasure Island where the Spice winds blow, To lovely groves of mango, quince and lime--- Breathe no goodbye, but ho, for the Red West! It's a queer time.

You're charging madly at them yelling 'Fag!' When somehow something gives and your feet drag. You fall and strike your head; yet feel no pain And find...you're digging tunnels through the hay In the Big Barn, 'cause it's a rainy day. Oh springy hay, and lovely beams to climb! You're back in the old sailor suit again. It's a queer time.

Or you'll be dozing safe in your dug-out--- A great roar---the trench shakes and falls about--- You're struggling, gasping, struggling, then...hullo! Elsie comes tripping gaily down the trench, Hanky to nose---that lyddite makes a stench--- Getting her pinafore all over grime. Funny! because she died ten years ago! It's a queer time.

The trouble is, things happen much too quick; Up jump the Bosches, rifles thump and click, You stagger, and the whole scene fades away: Even good Christians don't like passing straight From Tipperary or their Hymn of Hate To Alleluiah-chanting, and the chime Of golden harps...and...I'm not well to-day... It's a queer time.

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