The Backsheesh Sergeant

Original Text: 
Soldier Songs From Anzac (Melbourne: The Specialty Press Pty. Ltd., 1915): 39-40.
2        Unless it's 'gainst a wounded chap like me;
3'E's a cringin', crawlin' 'ound, an' a coward, I'll be bound,
4An' I don't know why 'e crossed the bloomin' sea.
5Give 'im some woollen socks, wrap some waddin' round 'is 'ocks,
6        An' send 'im to the bloomin' firin' line;
9'Is stripes are all Backsheesh, an' 'is feet are in a freeze,
10        'Cause 'is regiment soon is leavin' for the front;
11'Is knees they knock tergether, like a ship in squally weather,
12        'Cause 'e isn't game to bear the battle's brunt.
15Still 'e 'asn't got a gun, an' 'e's only out for fun,
16        'Cause 'e never meant to reach the ."firin' line.."
17'E thinks that 'e's a bloomin' 'ead, yet 'e isn't goin' to face the lead,
18        Unabashed, 'e says that 'ere 'e's goin' ter stay;
19'E's bluffed by Mr. Turk, so in Egypt 'ere 'e'll lurk,
22        An' writes 'ome an' says 'e can't be spared to go;
23As a soldier 'e's a failure, a disgrace to old Australia,
24        He's white-livered, and 'is 'eart's as cold as snow.
26        What 'e wants to do 'e thinks that 'e can do;
28        Mister Backsheesh Sergeant, 'ere's my best respects to you.


1] smoogin': fawning, flattering. backsheesh: beggary (from the Turkish word for ."tip." or ."gratuity."). Back to Line
7] bally: bloody. ter: to. Back to Line
8] cobbers: mates, buddies. Back to Line
13] knut: Fop. clobber: clothing Back to Line
14] ."Kiwi.": brand-name of boot polish in Australia and New Zealand. Back to Line
20] bounce: bluster. Back to Line
21] skitin: bragging. Back to Line
25] ."Base Details.": safe employment at the base rather than at the front line. Back to Line
27] sand: sugar. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire