- Editor's Selection of Poems (The Next War) by Robert Graves
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28 October, 2012
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Editor's Selection of Poems
The Next War

by Robert Graves

You young friskies who today  
Jump and fight in Fatherís hay  
With bows and arrows and wooden spears,  
Playing at Royal Welch Fusiliers,  
Happy though these hours you spend, 
Have they warned you how games end?  
Boys, from the first time you prod  
And thrust with spears of curtain-rod,  
From the first time you tear and slash  
Your long-bows from the garden ash, 
Or fit your shaft with a blue jay feather,  
Binding the split tops together,  
From that same hour by fate youíre bound  
As champions of this stony ground,  
Loyal and true in everything, 
To serve your Army and your King,  
Prepared to starve and sweat and die  
Under some fierce foreign sky,  
If only to keep safe those joys  
That belong to British boys, 
To keep young Prussians from the soft  
Scented hay of fatherís loft,  
And stop young Slavs from cutting bows  
And bendy spears from Welsh hedgerows.  
  Another War soon gets begun, 
A dirtier, a more glorious one;  
Then, boys, youíll have to play, all in;  
Itís the cruellest team will win.  
So hold your nose against the stink  
And never stop too long to think. 
Wars donít change except in name;  
The next one must go just the same,  
And new foul tricks unguessed before  
Will win and justify this War.  
Kaisers and Czars will strut the stage 
Once more with pomp and greed and rage;  
Courtly ministers will stop  
At home and fight to the last drop;  
By the million men will die  
In some new horrible agony; 
And children here will thrust and poke,  
Shoot and die, and laugh at the joke,  
With bows and arrows and wooden spears,  
Playing at Royal Welch Fusiliers. 

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