He came obedient to the call;
He might have shirked, like half his mates
Who, while their comrades fight and fall
Still go to swell the football gates.
And you, a patriot in your prime,
You waved a flag above his head
And hoped he’d have a high old time
And slapped him on the back and said:
“You’ll show ‘em what we British are!
Give us your hand, old pal, to shake!”
And took him round from bar to bar
And made him drink—for England’s sake.
That’s how you helped him. Yesterday
Clear-eyed and earnest, keen and hard,
He held himself the soldier’s way—
And now they’ve got him under guard.
That doesn’t hurt you; you’re all right.
Your easy conscience takes no blame,
But he, poor boy, with morning’s light,
He eats his heart out, sick with shame.
What’s that to you? You understand
Nothing of all his bitter pain;
You have no regiment to brand,
You have no uniform to stain.
No vow of service to abuse,
No pledge to king and country due;
But he had something dear to lose,
And he has lost it—thanks to you.