First World War Poetry Digital Archive

A Rhyme Of Friends Br(In A Style Skeltonical)

A RHYME OF FRIENDS by ROBERT GRAVES (In a Style Skeltonical)

Listen now this time Shortly to my rhyme That herewith starts About certain kind hearts In those stricken parts That lie behind Calais, Old crones and aged men And young childrén. About the Picardais, Who earned my thousand thanks, Dwellers by the banks Of the mournful Somme (God keep me therefrom Until War ends)--- These, then, are my friends: Madame Averlant Lune, From the town of Béthune; Good Professeur la Brune From that town also. He played the piccolo, And left his locks to grow. Dear Madame Hojdés, Sempstress of Saint Fé. With Jules and Suzette And Antoinette, Her children, my sweethearts, For whom I made darts Of paper to throw In their mimic show, 'La guerre aux tranchées'. That was a pretty play.

There was old Jacques Caron,

Of the hamlet Mailleton. He let me look At his household book, 'Comment vivre cent ans'. What cares I took To obey this wise book, I, who feared each hour Lest Death's cruel power On the poppied plain Might make cares vain!

By NÅ“ux-les-Mines Lived old Adelphine, Withered and clean, She nodded and smiled, And used me like a child. How that old trot beguiled My leisure with her chatter, Gave me a china platter Painted with Cherubim And mottoes on the rim. But when instead of thanks I gave her francs How her pride was hurt! She counted francs as dirt, (God knows, she was not rich) She called the Kaiser bitch, She spat on the floor, Cursing this Prussian war, That she had known before Forty years past and more.

There was also 'Tomi',

With looks sweet and free, Who called me cher ami. This orphan's age was nine, His folk were in their graves, Else they were slaves Behind the German line To terror and rapine--- O, little friends of mine How kind and brave you were, You smoothed away care When life was hard to bear. And you, old women and men, Who gave me billets then, How patient and great-hearted! Strangers though we started, Yet friends we ever parted. God bless you all: now ends This homage to my friends.

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