World War One Poetry – Day Seventeen

First World War Centenary

On the 11th November 2018, we reach the centenary year of World War One.

100 years since the end of conflict.

“On the centenary of the Armistice we will give thanks for peace and for those that returned, and remember the sacrifice of the 800,000 soldiers who died”

Each morning at 11:00 a.m., over the last two weeks I have been posting one of my favourite verses from the First World War, to mark the Centenary year of the end of conflict.

The verse below, Sergeant-Major Money was written in 1917 by Robert Graves

Graves was an English poet, historical novelist, critic, and classicist. He produced more than 140 works. Graves’s poems—together with his translations and innovative analysis and interpretations of Greek myths; his memoir of his early life, including his role in World War I, Good-Bye to All That; and his speculative study of poetic inspiration, The White Goddess—have never been out of print.

Sergeant-Major Money

By Robert Graves

It wasn’t our battalion, but we lay alongside it,
So the story is as true as the telling is frank.
They hadn’t one Line-officer left, after Arras,
Except a batty major and the Colonel, who drank.

‘B’ Company Commander was fresh from the Depot,
An expert on gas drill, otherwise a dud;
So Sergeant-Major Money carried on, as instructed,
And that’s where the swaddies began to sweat blood.

His Old Army humour was so well-spiced and hearty
That one poor sod shot himself, and one lost his wits;
But discipline’s maintained, and back in rest-billets
The Colonel congratulates ‘B’ Company on their kits.

The subalterns went easy, as was only natural
With a terror like Money driving the machine,
Till finally two Welshmen, butties from the Rhondda,
Bayoneted their bugbear in a field-canteen.

Well, we couldn’t blame the officers, they relied on Money;
We couldn’t blame the pitboys, their courage was grand;
Or, least of all, blame Money, an old stiff surviving
In a New (bloody) Army he couldn’t understand.


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