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Its a Queer Time - a poem by Robert Graves

It's a Queer Time 
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 good-bye, but ho, for the Rest West! 
It's a queer time. 

You're charging madly at them yeling '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. 
O 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 -- theat 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 Boshes, 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 today . . . 
It's a queer time.


It's a Queer Time - a poem by Robert Graves

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