C. K. Scott Moncrieff

Back in Billets

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We're in billets again, and to-night, if you please,
I shall strap myself up in a Wolsey valise.
What's that, boy? Your boots give you infinite pain?
You can chuck them away: we're in billets again.

We're in billets again now and, barring alarms,
There'll be no occasion for standing to arms,
And you'll find if you'd many night-watches to keep
That the hour before daylight's the best hour for sleep.

We're feasting on chocolate, cake, currant buns,
To a faint German-band obbligato of guns,
For I've noticed, wherever the regiment may go,
That we always end up pretty close to the foe.

But we're safe out of reach of trench mortars and snipers
Five inches south-west of the "Esses" in Ypres;
- Old Bob, who knows better, pronounces it Yper
But don't argue the point now - you'll waken the sleeper.

Our host brings us beer up, our thirst for to quench,
So we'll drink him good fortune in English and French:
- Bob, who finds my Parisian accent a blemish,
Goes one better himself in a torrent of Flemish.

It's a fortnight on Friday since Christopher died,
And John's at Boulogne with a hole in his side,
While poor Harry's got lost, the Lord only knows where;-
May the Lord keep them all and ourselves in His care.

...Mustn't think we don't mind when a chap gets laid out,
They've taken the best of us, never a doubt;
But with life pretty busy and death rather near
We've no time for regret any more than for fear.

...Here's a health to our host, Isidore Deschildre,
Himself and his wife and their plentiful childer,
And the brave aboyeur who bays our return;
More power to his paws when he treads by the churn!

You may speak of the Ritz or the Curzon (Mayfair)
And maintain that they keep you in luxury there
If you've lain for six weeks on a water-logged plain,
Here's the acme of comfort, in billets again.

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C. K. Scott Moncrieff