Joseph Johnston Lee

The Tot Of Rum

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A Soliloquy at Stand-to in the Trenches

Before I saw the trenches
I was a strict T.T.,
The pledge I'd took,
The water brook
Was strong enough for me,
But now I take my tot o' rum—
(I wish to Gawd that Sarg. would come)—
Each morning about three.

It's easy for the blokes at 'ome
To talk of honest water,
And tell us when we take our tot—
(A thimble would hold all the lot)—
We really shouldn't oughter;
But if they'd got to stand in mud
And water to the knee,
I guess they'd take their tot o' rum—
(I wish to Gawd that Sarg. would come)—
The very same as me.

You've been ten days in the front line,
Strafed soundly by the Hun,
You're short o' grub, you're short o' sleep,
The water's standing three foot deep,
You're feeling nearly done;
"Stand-to!" You shiver with the cold
You've no vitalit-ie—
It's then you bless the tot o' rum—
(I wish to Gawd that Sarg. would come,
It's almost half-past three!)

It's like a warm hand round your heart,
It's like a brazier's glow;
It trickles through your trembling lips,
It thrills you to your finger-tips,
And thaws your frozen toe.
"A little for the stomach's sake"—
That's good enough for me,
To fortify my fainting frame—
I'll give you gospel for the same,
See Tim. v.23.

When we return from this 'ere war
To mothers and to wives,
No rum we'll need,
And then we'll lead
Sober and godly lives.
But while we're fighting in the mud,
I begs to hope that we
Will get our little tot o' rum—
(My feet is froze, my hands is numb,
Thank Gawd! I see the Sargeant come!)—
Each morning just at three!

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Joseph Johnston Lee