The Centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme seemed an appropriate moment on which to share a found poem of mine entitled Sing a Song of Soldiers. To construct it I spliced together partial lines from war poems with partial lines from nursery rhymes, to make a new whole. So many of the men who die in war are so very young, some barely out of boyhood. In the First World War particularly, when recruiters became desperate and began to turn a blind eye to blatant lies, some of the combatants must have virtually gone from playing soldiers to actually being soldiers.

Sing a Song of Soldiers.

Little boy Kneels at the foot of the bed

and as he drops his head the instant splits his startled life with lead

blood-shod in shoes with grown-up laces he’s all ready to run some races

dragging stumps through fiery ground

Humpty Dumpty plummets arching towards his death

and all the king’s men seek to find their missing limbs

the maid is in the garden hanging men like shirts

sing a song of sixpence is muted when they shoot you in the throat

ding dong bells for those who die

as the cow jumps over the crimson guts

sleep pretty darling huddled as in bed

you are too young to fall asleep

this is the way we wave bye-bye.


Works used:

Keeping the Distance. Curt Bennett.

One Fine Day. Curt Bennett.

Golden Slumbers. Thomas Dekker.

A Square Dance. Roger McGough.

Anthem for Doomed Youth. Wilfred Owen.

Dulce et Decorum Est. Wilfred Owen.

Growing Up. A.A. Milne. When We Were Very Young 1924.

Vespers. A.A.Milne. When We Were Very Young 924.

A Whispered Tale. Siegfried Sassoon.

A Working Party. Siegfried Sassoon.

The Dug-Out. Seigfried Sassoon.

The Night Patrol. Arthur Graeme West.


Sing a Song of Sixpence.

Ding, Dong, Bell.