(Poem #830) The Question
I wonder if the old cow died or not. Gey bad she was the night I left, and sick. Dick reckoned she would mend. He knows a lot-- At least he fancies so himself, does Dick. Dick knows a lot. But maybe I did wrong To leave the cow to him, and come away. Over and over like a silly song These words keep humming in my head all day. And all I think of, as I face the foe And take my lucky chance of being shot, Is this -- that if I'm hit, I'll never know Till Doomsday if the old cow died or not.
Note: Gey (adj.): Considerable, `tolerable', `middling': esp. of quantity or amount. Scots, variant of 'gay'. -- OED We've run a lot of war poems, but nothing quite like today's. Which is rather surprising - in retrospect, this ought to be a more common perspective on the subject. Gibson's portrayal of the soldier - who, in the midst of the battle, and with death a distinct possibility, can only think of an minor unresolved matter that he will now 'never know till Doomsday' - is incongruous, yes, but definitely not unconvincing. The language has an appealing quality to it, too. Overlaid upon the deliberately rustic sound are some wonderfully flowing phrases, like Dick reckoned she would mend. He knows a lot-- At least he fancies so himself, does Dick. and the unexpected 'lucky chance of being shot'. The rhythm also follows the 'over and over like a silly song' nature of the poet's obsessive thoughts, as do the several repeated phrases. Biography: poem #622 Links: I did think of rounding up all the war poems we'd run in Minstrels, but there were just too many of them. We are working on categorising the archive, at which point there will indeed be a complete list of war poems. -martin