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Poem by Robert William Service


Hot Digitty Dog


Hot digitty dog! Now, ain't it queer,
I've been abroad for over a year;
Seen a helluva lot since then,
Killed, I reckon, a dozen men;
Six was doubtful, but six was sure,
Three in Normandy, three in the Ruhr.
Four I got with a hand grenade,
Two I shot in a midnight raid:
Oh, I ain't sorry, except perhaps
To think that my jerries wasn't japs.

Hot digitty dog! Now ain't it tough;
I oughta be handed hero stuff -
Bands and banquets, and flags and flowers,
Speeches, peaches, confetti showers;
"Welcome back to the old home town,
Colour Sargent Josephus Brown.
Fought like a tiger, one of our best,
Medals and ribands on his chest.
cheers for a warrior, fresh from the fight..."
Sure I'd 'a got 'em; - had I been white.

Hot digitty dog! It's jist too bad,
Gittin' home an' nobody gald;
Sneakin' into the Owl Drug Store
Nobody knowin' me any more;
Admirin' my uniform fine and fit -
Say, I've certainly changed a bit
From the lanky lad who used to croon
To a battered banjo in Shay's Saloon;
From the no-good nigger who runned away
After stickin' his knife into ol' man Shay.

They's a lynched me, for he was white,
But he raped my sister one Sunday night;
So I did what a proper man should do,
And I sunk his body deep in the slough.
Oh, he taunted me to my dark disgrace,
Called me a nigger, spat in my face;
So I buried my jack-knife in his heart,
Laughin' to see the hot blood start;
Laughin' still, though it's long ago,
And nobody's ever a-gonna know.

Nobody's ever a-gonna tell
How Ol' Man Shay went straight to hell;
nobody's gonna make me confess -
And what is a killin' more or less.
My skin may be black, but by Christ! I fight;
I've slain a dozen, and each was white,
And none of 'em ever did me no harm,
And my conscience is clear; I've no alarm;
So I'll go where I sank Ol' Man Shay in the bog,
And spit in the water... Hot digitty dog!



Robert William Service


Robert William Service's other poems:
  1. The Centenarian
  2. Prelude (I sing no idle songs of dalliance days)
  3. Sensibility
  4. Retired Shopman
  5. The Prospector


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