C. K. Scott Moncrieff

The Willow-tree Bough

My heart's at the war with a good-natured rifleman
Where he stands firing his foemen to slay;
While he was home with us, laughter and liveliness -
Night time or church time 'twas all holiday.
Friends who fall in with a good-natured rifleman
Tell him his Helen abides by her vow
Just as she swore when her William, last January,
Carved his sweet name on the willow-tree bough.

He's got moustaches, a good-natured rifleman,
Curled at each end like the fiery young moon,
Yes, and he marches so deft and delightfully,
All the old streets here still echo the tune.
Now that he's given himself up for a soldier,
All over the world his brave body to show,
How can you wonder that I in my anxiousness
Weep with my eyes on the willow-tree bough?

Here's to their health, the green-jacketed gentlemen,
Scouring their enemies over the plain,
Fighting like seals in a lickerish estuary
Soon may old Winchester see them again -
Soon may the children, are yet to be born to me,
Standing around like young shoots in a row,
Hark to the eldest one spelling so easily
Worm-eaten words on the willow-tree bough.



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C. K. Scott Moncrieff